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Will the Critical Race Theory Debate Affect Turnout During the Midterms?

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The year 2021 is coming to a close and all eyes are on the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. These races are expected to be fierce, with Republicans and Democrats battling it out to determine who controls the legislature as well as state and local offices.

Several issues will likely influence the outcome of these races and even though Democrats are at a severe disadvantage, they are mobilizing to ensure that they minimize the damage they sustain if they lose one or both chambers of Congress. However, the Critical Race Theory (CRT) issue is poised to become one of the hottest issues that will play into this saga. Indeed, it has been speculated that this topic could result in a higher turnout from conservative voters than we have seen in a long time.

The Epoch Times noted that “what some describe as school board ‘shenanigans’ has inspired greater interest among parents to vote in midterm elections.”

The report explains:

According to FairVote, while about 60 percent of America’s eligible voters cast ballots during presidential elections, only about 40 percent vote during midterms, with 2020 and 2018 marking the highest presidential and midterm turnout in over a century. However, while midterms traditionally have lower turnout, many Americans now have renewed perspectives on the importance of casting their ballots in midterm elections. While midterms are when voters narrow the field of candidates ahead of general elections, they are also the time when voters cast ballots for those they want to represent them in state and community offices, such as school board members.

The author added: “Some believe the surprise victory of Republican Gov. Glen Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s election is a sign of things to come in the 2022 midterms.”

Republican officials are looking forward to using education, among other issues, as a way to differentiate themselves from the Democrats, who have been having an unusually difficult time crafting a coherent and compelling messaging strategy. After Glenn Youngkin won Virginia’s gubernatorial race, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declared he would “soon unroll a parents’ bill of rights,” and explained that the GOP “will be the party of education.”

McCarthy told The Epoch Times´ that Youngkin’s win “was led by frustrated parents who were fed up with an education system that neglected the needs of their children” and that “[i]t is just one snapshot of the same frustration that has been, and continues to be, felt by millions of families nationwide.”

The lawmaker also explained how progressives are trying to alter school curriculum to reflect a wokeist agenda. He said:

“In my home state of California, there has been a recent push to ‘de-emphasize calculus’ and include more ‘social justice’ in math. Parents across the country have voiced concerns about inappropriate literature on school bookshelves. Unexpected threats of school closures continue to loom, and this is all happening in the midst of a push to decrease parental involvement in education. This is wrong—that is why House Republicans will ensure protecting parents’ involvement in education will be a critical component of our ’22 platform.”

House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) concurred with McCarthy’s sentiments. After Youngkin won, she tweeted: “Republicans will run and win on education!”

She told The Epoch Times, that “[f]ar left Governor Kathy Hochul’s policies are failing New Yorkers,” and argued that the “illegal and authoritarian vaccine mandates” are worsening the existing labor shortages among first responders.

The hubbub over CRT has been a primary focal point for parents nationwide. But this is not the only issue; parents are also concerned about the prevalence of sexually inappropriate material being made available to young children through school libraries.

The Democrats messaging strategy on the issue has not been as cohesive as is usual for the left. It has vacillated between outright denying that CRT concepts are being infused into the classroom to defending the teaching. They have also deceptively claimed that CRT is just about teaching history, which is absurd on its face when people see news stories about white and black children and members of faculty being grouped by skin color during various exercises.

In early November, the New York Times published a piece also speculating on the influence the CRT debate could have on the outcome of the midterm elections. The author observed the surprising number of school board recall efforts that are occurring nationwide. She wrote:

Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan political encyclopedia, said it had tracked 80 school board recall efforts against 207 board members in 2021 — the highest number since it began tracking in 2010.

This trend, along with the widespread anti-CRT sentiment reveals that the issue will most likely play an important role in 2022. Even in the face of being labeled “domestic terrorists” and other efforts to silence them, parents are speaking out anyway. As the Times noted, many have been running for school board seats to oust officials promoting CRT in classrooms. This conflict has shown no signs of slowing down as progressives continue trying to infuse elements of the theory into curricula all across the country.

Currently, there is no data showing how the CRT brouhaha will affect the upcoming elections. Both the New York Times and The Epoch Times included numerous examples of parents indicating they will be showing up to vote in the midterms despite never having done so before. Admittedly, these are anecdotal examples. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fervor these parents have shown over the past year nor can we discount what occurred in Virginia.

If these signs are any indication, we can most assuredly expect to see an uptick in the number of conservatives going to the polls to vote against those seeking to push the tenets of wokeism in their children’s schools. Right now, it appears the Democrats are in for quite a reckoning.