Why education could convince voters to cross party lines in fall elections

'The education voter is the new swing voter,' says leader of charter school alliance.

Education has become such a powerful political issue that some parents would vote for someone from another political party if that candidate shared their views, a new poll shows. That potential phenomenon holds true for Republicans, Independents and Democrats who expect to vote in federal, state and local elections, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

More than 80% of parents said they would cross party lines in this fall’s mid-term elections if a candidate’s education platform aligned with their own beliefs, according to the survey of 5,000 adults conducted in May. Here’s a breakdown of how many members of each party and other groups agreed or strongly agreed with this sentiment:

  • 88% of Independents
  • 81% of Democrats
  • 79% of Republications
  • 41% of Black parents “strongly agreed”
  • 40% of parents under age 35 “strongly agreed”

The Alliance, however, did not specify which issues could convince voters to cross party lines. “This poll clearly shows support for education options is stronger than ever among parents,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The education voter is the new swing voter.”

Some 83% of parents said that education is now a more important political issue to them than it has been in the past. Those who strongly agreed were more likely to be: Democrats (43%), Republicans (42%), parents with special-needs children (45%), and Black parents (45%). Education was the second most important issue, after taxes, for a majority of parents who expect to vote this fall. Education ranked ahead of the economy, healthcare and abortion.

About three in four parents said they would consider sending their child to a public charter school if one was operating in their community. Even more parents, 84%, said they supported charter schools even if they probably wouldn’t send their child to one. Also, 53% of Black parents and 40% of Hispanic parents “strongly agree” that they want options for their child’s education beyond their assigned district school.

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The full survey will be released later this summer.

Eye on Arizona

In Arizona, 68% of voters said education in their state is heading in the wrong direction and that they want candidates to take action to improve student outcomes. The top education issue for voters was ensuring that every school has quality teachers and principals, according to an Education Forward Arizona poll of 500 voters conducted in May. Nearly 80% of Arizona voters said teacher salaries are too low and two-thirds said school funding was too low.

A majority of the voters polled did not support banning critical race theory, restricting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation during sex education, or closing failing schools.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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