From Byron York’s Daily Memo:
So now, Democratic pollsters are doing some basic research. Why did voters reject McAuliffe? What, specifically, did he do wrong? Recently, a Democratic firm, ALG Research, which served as the top pollster for President Joe Biden's campaign, asked those questions in focus groups in the Northern Virginia suburbs and in Richmond. Some of the answers they found are deeply troubling for Democrats all across the country. Two lessons stand out: The first is that Democrats lost the education issue, long a party strength. And they did not lose it, as much of the press coverage implied, because of critical race theory. They lost it because of the party's support — dictated by teachers unions — of shutting down schools during the COVID pandemic. In a new report , ALG's Brian Stryker and Oren Savir write that, while critical race theory was an issue, and voters did not approve of its use in schools, the issue "wasn't as salient as the fact that [voters] felt Democrats closed their schools and didn't feel bad about it." Voters saw Democrats as "putting government and closures before parents on schools," the report says. When the researchers discussed critical race theory, they noticed that the voters in the focus group "were more animated talking about their dissatisfaction with their local school districts' handling of Covid." Participants felt that officials had closed the schools and kept them closed without regard to science. One woman who voted for Biden for president and then Youngkin for governor said her vote was "against the party that closed the schools for so long last year." McAuliffe, of course, made things worse when he said, "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." It was the classic nongaffe gaffe in which the candidate said what he really thought. The Youngkin campaign made good use of it. But the biggest problem with McAuliffe's statement, the researchers found, "was that it played into an existing narrative that Democrats didn't listen to parents when they kept the schools closed past any point of reason and that they'd close the schools again over parents' objections." Voters "broadly don't feel heard right now when it comes to schools, and they blame liberals and Democrats."