The economy may be the issue weighing heavily on voters’ minds ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, but the culture wars are also fueling voter angst.
Divisive issues like abortion, critical race theory and LGBTQ rights are shaping political contests, from local school board races to campaigns for governor, state legislature and Congress.
- Several states will decide the future of reproductive rights within their borders following the US Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade last June.
- If a referendum passes in Kentucky, it would explicitly ban abortion rights in the Bluegrass state, while voters in California, Michigan and Vermont will decide whether to change their state constitutions to protect reproductive freedom. In Montana, voters will consider a ballot initiative declaring that an embryo or fetus is a legal person entitled to medical care if it survives an abortion.
- Republican candidates for state school superintendent in Arizona and South Carolina are vowing to end the promotion of critical race theory, which looks at whether systems and policies perpetuate racism. Conservatives have made blocking the teaching of critical race theory their cause celebre, even though there is little evidence that it is actually being taught in public elementary and secondary schools.
- A ballot measure in West Virginia would give state lawmakers the power to approve, amend or reject decisions by the state board of education, a move that comes amid skirmishes across the country over discussion of racial and LGBTQ issues as part of the classroom curriculum. Critics fear that passage of the ballot measure will inject more politics into public schools.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican running for a second term, is defending a law he signed in March that bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. His Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, vows to get politics out of schools.
What is about to happen?
Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to express their opinion on various cultural issues on the ballot and decide which party will control Congress. A Republican victory would make it harder for President Joe Biden to enact his agenda for the next two years and give conservatives a boost as they push through issues like a federal ban on abortion.
The best takeaways
Biden and congressional Democrats are counting on the outrage over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling to mobilize their base and drive them to the polls as they try to protect their slim majorities in the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, conservative strategists hope concern over K-12 education sends parents to the polls. A Gallup poll conducted in September showed that almost one in four Americans is “completely dissatisfied” with education their children are receiving, while 32% expressed some dissatisfaction.
In another survey published at the end of October by the National Union of Parents, About six in 10 registered voters who are also parents of school-age children said they are more motivated to vote this year than in previous midterms. Eighty-two percent said they are very likely to vote in the next election.
what are they saying
- “I don’t want to teach our kids to hate our country,” DeSantis said, explaining during an Oct. 24 debate with his Democratic opponent why he supported legislation to ban critical race theory in schools.
- In the same debate, Crist criticized DeSantis for the way he has handled discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools and his opposition to gender-affirming care for transgender youth. “You don’t have the temperament to be nice and decent to other people who don’t look like you, act like you, and don’t contribute to you,” Crist said.
- An analysis of election spending released last week by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, found that anti-LGBTQ groups are making their latest pitch to voters by funneling tens of millions of dollars into political ads. and emails that target transgender youth and spread misinformation.
- “Across the country, extremist candidates are brazenly using their final days of campaigning to promote grotesque and outrageous lies that attack and smear LGBTQ+ people, designed to scare voters into supporting their campaigns,” said Joni Madison, president Interim Human Rights Campaign. “These ads are part of a coordinated effort by anti-equality candidates and their extremist allies to secure votes through fear and division.”
- “The Biden administration and the Democratic Party have yet to learn of an abortion that they would not support,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, which opposes abortion. “Tragically, women and their unborn babies will be the ones to suffer.”
- “The bottom line is this: If the Republicans gain control of Congress and pass a nationalized abortion ban, I will veto it,” Biden said at a Democratic Party reception in Philadelphia last Friday. “But if we elect two more Democrats to the Senate and maintain control of the House, we will codify Roe v. Wade in January to make it the law of the land.”
You want to know more?
WILL THE GOP SUPPORT A 15-WEEK ABORTION BAN? Republicans debate their options
‘ALTERNATIVE REALITIES’: Democrats and Republicans slander each other as ‘fascists’. It’s okay?
TURN BACK THE CLOCK: Will fights over curriculum usher in a new era of segregated schools?
REPUBLICANS WANT TO WIN SCHOOL BOARDS:They are winning in the white counties by following the race.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.