Morning Consult: Plurality of Republicans, independents view CRT negatively

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

The dash to define CRT remains open, according to a new Morning Consult poll, but its advocates are definitely trailing at the moment. The largest plurality of Americans have never heard of critical race theory, and a majority have either not heard of it or have no opinion (35% and 17%), respectively. But of those who have heard of it, negative views outweigh positive views 29/19.

And that changes significantly among non-Democrats:

The poll asked those who said they’d seen, read or heard “a lot” about critical race theory to describe it in their own words. Among informed Republican respondents, nearly 4 in 5 expressed negative sentiment, with one calling the theory a means to make white “people feel guilty about being white” and another saying it is a “way to villainize one race over another with twisted history.”

The largest share of informed independent voters (46 percent) described critical race theory using negative terms, such as “BS” or “anti-white racism,” compared with just 7 percent of Democrats, one of whom characterized the idea as trying “to combat racism by being racist against whites.”

About half of Democrats who said they were informed on the subject expressed neutral views, with less combative language describing the “history of racism in America” or “a movement of civil-rights.” …

Along with the open-ended test, the quantitative part of the survey found a similar strength in responses among the larger Republican electorate and weaker views among Democrats and independents.

Interestingly, CRT remains on the fringe even among Democrats. Sixty-one percent have heard of it, the lowest among all groups, and only about half of those (32%) see it favorably. That’s a surprisingly low penetration for this progressive social context among the voters most sympathetic to its construct.

And it’s clearly not selling anywhere else, either:

Among Republicans with an opinion, opposition hits nearly a majority a 48/8, but given the politics of CRT, that’s almost a given. More interesting is the result among independents, a point that Morning Consult mentions but doesn’t particularly emphasize. Twice as many indies (31/15) view CRT negatively, which means that Democrats’ emphasis on it — especially in schools — has the potential to turn this into a disaster.

That seems even more likely when looking at some of the demos in the crosstabs. This cuts against at least a couple of traditional Democratic-voting groups, where favorability is underwater:

  • Women: 16/23
  • Income under $50K: 14/25
  • Suburban voters: 17/33 (!)
  • Retired: 13/37
  • Students: 18/19
  • Economy-priority voters: 16/33

Even among black voters, who are theoretically the beneficiaries of CRT-directed policies, approval is only limited to 26/16, with only 12% “very favorable” and 10% “very unfavorable.” That’s a daunting set of voters to turn off for Democrats.

When voters get asked whether it should be taught in K-12 schools, the picture gets a little more murky. Opposition comes in at 32/36, and it’s clear that teaching CRT as a theory is different than adopting it in policy — at least a little. It’s still not popular among those demos overall:

  • Women: 30/33
  • Income under $50K: 35/39
  • Suburban voters: 28/40
  • Retired: 20/45
  • Students: 48/22
  • Economy-priority voters: 29/41
  • Black voters: 53/16

That’s slightly better, and understandably so. Support for teaching CRT as a theory fares a bit better when asked about universities and colleges too, because education should be open to all points of view. Too often conservatives and their ideas get marginalized or locked out of Academia, a point long decried on the Right and for very good reason. The answer to that isn’t to forbid teaching and debate on arguments we don’t like but to open up campuses to all perspectives.

Clearly, however, CRT isn’t popular even among Democrats, and not among the voters they need most to keep in control of Congress. If they continue to embrace CRT, they are handing the GOP a big stick with which to beat them in the midterms, especially in suburbs — even in relatively blue Loudoun County, for instance. Unless they can catch up and redefine CRT as anything other than a system in which immutable characteristics are considered determinative to the exclusion of all else, this will be an albatross around their necks.