People in the United States do not like book-banning, a new poll shows, as Republicans around the country seek to ban huge numbers of books from schools. And people don’t like the basic foundations of Republican attacks on teaching about race and racism, either, according to the CBS News poll, which focused on race as part of Black History Month coverage.
It’s not the only recent poll to highlight that the Republican education culture wars, as big a megaphone as they’re getting from Fox News and prominent politicians, are not what most people want. Can someone tell Republicans this? Better yet, can someone tell Democrats?
The CBS News poll found that more than 80% of people disagreed with banning books for criticizing U.S. history, for political ideas they disagreed with, for depicting slavery, and for discussing race. More than two out of three people said that teaching about race in America makes students understand what others went through. Less than one in four said it makes students feel guilty about past generations. And majorities understood that racism is a problem, with 58% saying it’s a major problem now, and 71% saying it was a major problem in the past. Those numbers are lower than they should be, for sure, but they are strong majorities nonetheless.
This is not the only poll to suggest that Republicans are all in on a subject that is not an automatic winner for them. In a CNN poll earlier in the month, more Democrats than Republicans said education was an extremely important issue in their thinking about the midterm elections. Of the people attributing that importance to education, 31% said they were thinking about the broad social benefits of education, not focusing on a particular political controversy. Just 7% mentioned critical race theory, 2% mentioned in-person school, and 1% mentioned masking in schools.
In a January Pew Research Center poll, 39% of people said they agreed with Democrats on education, while 31% said they agreed with Republicans. Notably, by January, Republicans had been hammering the issue for many months and while neither party was doing great, they conspicuously weren’t winning it.
Take these numbers with the recent Virginia poll showing Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s approval ratings underwater just over a month into his term, along with opposition to his positions on mask mandates and the teaching of race in schools, and there’s a really important message for Democrats and for the media: Republicans being loud doesn’t mean Republicans are winning on an issue.
Say it with me, Democratic leaders:
Republicans are banning books.
Republicans don't want kids to learn about race in U.S. history.
Republicans are intimidating teachers.
Republicans are threatening school board members.
And media? Sit up and pay attention to both the ugliness of what Republicans are doing and the fact that the public really isn’t on board, outside the hardcore Republican base.