- School choice enjoys broad and increasing support.
- Candidates who support school choice increase their chance of winning.
A recent poll by SurveyUSA of 804 registered North Carolina voters indicates broad public support for school choice. Among the findings, strong majorities back charter schools (public schools that function independently of local school districts) and expanding educational savings accounts (tax payer-funded accounts that cover education expenses). The poll was sponsored by the Civitas Institute.
Support for school choice increased broadly across the United States in 2018. A survey of millennials, a demographic often considered to the left of the general population, indicated strong support for both school choice (page 20 of the report) and charter schools (page 21), with African Americans and Hispanics voicing the strongest support for school choice.
That increase in support for school choice has translated into gains for politicians who support choice programs. The American Federation for Children, a national pro-school choice advocacy organization, reported that 77 percent of the candidates they supported in 2018 won their elections.
School choice is an issue that can cross traditional partisan and ethnic divides. In Florida, Ron DeSantis won about 18 percent of the vote of African American women, may of whom were “school choice moms” concerned that a victory by DeSantis’ opponent would mean an end for school choice in their state. That was more than twice the support Republicans typically receive from African Americans. DeSantis also won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. In addition, Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a strong advocate for school choice, won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his successful reelection bid. Both politicians capitalized on the board support for school choice in their states to alter traditional voting patterns.
That broad support for school choice was also found in the North Carolina poll. Strong majorities across age, race, gender, and region support various school choice programs. Candidates that can successfully tap into the broad support will greatly increase their chance of winning in 2020.