Republicans have landed on an early campaign theme for the 2022 midterms, and any elections before then: Blame President Biden and the Democrats for enduring school closures. "Locked out of power at the federal level, Republicans have increasingly focused on shutdowns as a way to win back the suburbanites who drifted away during the Trump presidency," David Weigel reports at The Washington Post.
The conflict between angry parents and teachers over school reopneings is real, and it has "reached a fever pitch," The Wall Street Journal reports, but it's complicated.
Republican lawmakers, "while offering no commitment to meaningfully engage on policy proposals, have responded to continued school closures by striking hard at Biden and Democrats, with more Republicans each week accusing the administration of scaling back their ambitious goals on everything from testing to school reopenings," Politico adds. And "Biden's advisers and allies recognize that they need to respond to the spiraling angst felt by families or risk driving them into the arms of waiting Republicans."
"In Virginia, Republican candidates for governor have campaigned on ending the school closures; in New Jersey, they've criticized the Democratic governor's vaccine rollout," Weigel reports. "The first Republican ad buys ahead of the 2022 House midterms have been billboards accusing Democrats of opposing school reopenings because of their support from teacher's unions." So far, though, public polling doesn't favor the GOP case.
"Since the start of the year, national polls have found voters more in agreement with the teachers unions than with the demands for reopening," Weigel notes, and the only groups where there's majority support for complete reopening of schools right away are Republicans and Trump supporters. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday morning found that 59 percent of voters trust local school administrators on reopening schools, two-thirds trust parents, and 54 percent trust local teachers unions. A similar faction, 55 percent, say teachers should be vaccinated before schools open.