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Ron DeSantis is doubling down on his educational crusade. Will it work with GOP voters in 2024?



Florida’s legislative session may have just begun, but lawmakers already have a lot to do. Partly because the Republicans there introduced flurry of bills which would turn K-12 and higher education into a state – from forcing public colleges and universities shut down any diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and exclude students and minors in “critical race theory, gender studies, or intersectionality” to increased oversight of school libraries.

The legislative session will be chaired by the governor. Ron DeSantis’ priorities – but as he teases running nationally, DeSantis seems to be more focused on appealing to the broader national Republican Party constituency than the average Florida resident. In fact, his ongoing attacks on the so-called “awokeideology – especially as it relates to the public school system, of which he had previously spoken:parentingis one of the strongest signals that if DeSantis does run for president, he will seek the nomination by stoking some of the same cultural grievances that Republicans have been emphasizing for years.

This approach can work – at least in the primary GOP. after all, these messages helped to enable the rise to power of former President Donald Trump. But if DeSantis succeeds in securing the nomination, his tactics may come at the cost of alienating voters in the general election, especially suburban and independent voters.

However, first things first. If DeSantis wants to win the GOP nomination (assuming he does decides to throw his hat in the ring), his focus on race and education makes a lot of sense. It’s because GOP primary voters — especially social conservatives — who have long lamented their perceived decline in influence in American society, are likely to be quite receptive to these messages. Case in point: in joint survey with FiveThirtyEight, non-partisan research firm PerryUndem found that support – or lack thereof – for the Black Lives Matter movement was the number one issue. 1 predictor of attitudes towards voter choice in 2022 and a number of political positions. ace Tresa Undemco-founder of PerryUndem, told me that racial discontent has a lot of power and can lead to different consequences than, say, bills. targeted at LGBTQ students.

“Our data shows that views on race and racial ideology are top predictors of Republican voting. Thus, any measure that specifically addresses race will appeal to the vast majority of Republican voters,” Undem said. “This is a mobilizing question. There’s a lot of racial discontent among Republicans right now, and it’s mobilizing them in a way that other issues may not or may not.”

Other polls show that Republicans are less likely than the general public to support discussion of various race-related issues in K-12 schools. AFebruary Data for progress The poll, for example, found that while just over half of likely voters (52 percent) thought the Black Lives Matter movement should be age-appropriately taught, the percentage of Republicans who supported it was significantly lower (26 percent). Republicans were also less likely than all likely voters (48 percent versus 69 percent, respectively) to support age-appropriate discussions of contemporary racism and racial equality in the classroom. Meanwhile, a February poll of Americans from YouGov/Economist found that about a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) and voters who supported Trump in the 2020 election (25 percent) believe that K-12 schools teach “too much” the history of black Americans. Only 14 percent of Americans — and 6 percent of Democrats — thought so.

This data may be one reason Republicans seem confident that DeSantis’ focus on race in education could win over socially conservative voters in the GOP primary. During a telephone conversation with me, a Republican sociologist Whit Ayres pointed to Glenn Youngkin win in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race after he stressed:parental rightsin the classroom as proof to GOP candidates and strategists that some education-related issues are attractive.

“Savvy Republican presidential candidates have historically made good use of education,” Ayres said. “Good Republican candidates have seen potential in education for years.”

It is noteworthy that not only DeSantis beats this drum. Although they have been sparing in their definitions of what exactly they consider to be critical race theory, former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy for president last month, recently tweeted that it was “un-American”. Meanwhile, Trump was sound the alarm on critical racial theory in schools since at least 2020. But DeSantis maybe the most aggressive impact on education. He made a splash last year. after the signing of the disputed “Stop WOKE Law”, which governs the teaching of race in schools and workplaces in Florida. More recently, his administration blocked the doctrine advanced course in African American Studies for high school students statewide, stating that it “has largely no educational valueand then threatened cut ties with the college board at all.

DeSantis’ efforts to control what Florida students are taught seem to have found a receptive audience in other Republican-controlled states as well. Analysis by FiveThirtyEight has identified at least five copycat U.S. race-in-education bills that have moved beyond committee—many of them moving forward in states where there is a tripartite interaction between Republicans and government.

“All politicians look to what has been successful in these states as a model for themselves,” Ayres said. It makes sense, he added, especially because “DeSantis gave his own take on the issue of education.”

The rapid spread of these ideas in the red states really testifies to the potential strength of the DeSantis program in the Republican presidential primaries. But if he gets the nomination, it’s possible that DeSantis overdid it on how much the general public would like these moves. While proposals that address LGBTQ-related issues in schools may have broader general appeal, race-related culture war messages have a distinctly mixed reputation among general election voters. Understandably, some Republicans believe that the attack race-related teachings could win over some coveted voting blocs, especially white parents, but last year’s midterm elections showed that faith is not always translated into reality. Of course, DeSantis’ crushing victory was the start of a big conversation after Election Day, but a number of other Republicans which had uncompromising education positions on these issues are lost respective races. It may also be difficult for DeSantis to find a middle ground on these matters as we move into 2024, especially if he faces a string of Republican challengers who push him to the right (as he may have already experienced with both Trump and Haley). )

“Because Florida is so economically successful and so many people move here, I think DeSantis believes that – along with his tough stance on education – that will work for him,” he said. Sharon D Wright Austinprofessor of political science at the University of Florida. But, she added, the message may not resonate outside the core GOP base. “It is clear that he is trying to appeal to these suburban voters, white women in particular, but in doing so, he has also offended so many other voters such as black and LGBT voters. He also alienates independents and he definitely needs their support to win the general election,” she said.

This is in line with my recent report, which pointed to polls showing that voters in general have become increasingly wary of moves to ban critical race theory and other discussions of race in schools. That February Data for progress The survey, for example, showed that the vast majority of respondents were in favor of teaching topics such as racism and slavery, among other things, in K-12 schools. Among potential voters, 83 percent said slavery should be discussed “in an age-appropriate way,” compared to 11 percent of respondents who said it should not be taught at all. , had as high support (79 percent) among those polled as discussions about modern racism and racial equality (69 percent) and social and political activism (66 percent).

Data for Progress also asked voters if they support Florida’s offensive against the AP’s African American Studies course, and two-thirds of likely voters said they support this class is taught in secondary schools in their own communities. Of course, there were racial and partisan divisions when it came to how many voters supported this curriculum, but the vast majority of Democrats (89%), the large majority of independent voters (69%), and just under half of Republicans (44%). percent) were in favour.

But even if race-oriented education is not the best general election strategy— as predicted by the party itself it would be so in the run-up to last November’s midterm elections — it’s entirely possible that DeSantis could easily win through a host of other education-related channels. Legislators in Florida and several other states are also looking at a number of bills against transgender students. According to Undem, bills aimed at LGBTQ rights are less important to voters than racial issues. She said presenting the education debate as an attempt to empower parents could appeal to voters of all political stripes.

“Suburban and swing voters are more likely to oppose these racially motivated policies. But there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to gender identity and children legislation, and I think some parts of the population may be more receptive to these bills,” she said. “The country is pretty much still learning about gender identity, so some groups are ready to attack. The race is more egregious.”

Of course, this year’s legislative session may be far enough in the rearview mirror by the time the Republican nomination is decided, and whatever DeSantis does this year won’t matter much. But at the same time, and especially before he becomes a viable presidential candidate, DeSantis probably won’t slow down his crusade against race and education. That’s because at this point in the process, it’s more about asserting yourself as the heir of Trumpism than it is about challenging President Biden. That in itself raises an interesting question about DeSantis’ upcoming presidential candidacy: Will GOP primary voters accept thinly veiled Trumpism if it doesn’t come from Trump himself?

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For Trump and his potential 2024 GOP rivals, it’s all about Iowa



DEMOINES, Iowa — Donald Trump was in Iowa on Monday. Government Ron DeSantis of Florida made his first visit last week. Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina made recent trips. And on Saturday, former Vice President Mike Pence will speak.

Despite Democrats choosing to snub Iowa in 2024, the state has never been seen by Republicans as significant in the presidential race. For one Republican, it was a do-or-die feeling — the first real test of Mr. Trump’s strength or vulnerability.

In modern times, no former president has sought to reclaim the White House. Mr. Trump’s loss or even less-than-convincing victory in the state caucuses, the Republican kick-off contest early next year, would signal near-fatal weakness in his campaign, according to GOP strategists inside and outside the state. . For this reason, both his rivals and Trump himself are paying increased attention to Iowa.

“I don’t see a formula where Trump loses Iowa and it doesn’t really hurt him and his chances as a candidate,” said Terry Sullivan, who ran Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite Mr. Trump handily winning Iowa’s 2016 and 2020 general elections, Republican activists in the state have said he is not guaranteed a 2024 caucus victory, although he remains the leader.

Last week a Des Moines Registration / Mediacom Iowa Poll found that Mr. Trump’s appeal is waning: if he becomes a candidate in 2024, only 47 percent of Republicans in Iowa would definitely support him in the general election. That’s a double-digit decline from the 69 percent who in 2021 said they would definitely support it.

“For a former president, winning the Iowa caucuses is everything,” said Bob Vander Platz, the state’s influential evangelical voter leader. “If he loses, it will mean a nomination” for everyone else, he said. “If he wins the Iowa caucuses, no one will stop him.”

After the Democrats decided that Iowa’s almost all-white, mostly rural population is not representative and replaced South Carolina as the starting state for their 2024 primaries, the Republicans are accepting the state’s traditional role as a testing ground.

The Trump campaign has hired seasoned state leaders and is planning to build Iowa’s caucuses infrastructure, signaling a desire to turn things around in 2016, when Mr. Trump was shocked to come second in the caucuses.

At the time, the politically inexperienced reality TV star believed that the large crowds at his rallies would easily escalate into a flood of rally attendees. Instead, he lost to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Mr. Trump was so angry that he flew out of Iowa without thanking his local staff. unreasonably tweet later that Mr. Cruz won due to “fraud” — a preview of his approach after losing re-election in 2020.

Trump advisers have said they do not intend to repeat the mistakes of 2016. “We have a major political operation in Iowa, run and coordinated by exceptionally competent professionals who know their stuff,” said Chris Lacivita, a senior Trump campaign adviser. “We are doing this because, firstly, we are serious, and secondly, we want to win.”

Mr. Trump has hired Marshall Moreau, who oversaw last year’s unsuccessful Republican Attorney General’s victory in Iowa, as his state director. He also hired Alex Latchman, former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, as his director of early voting states. Mr. Latchman witnessed Trump’s clumsy efforts in 2016.

“We have learned from this lesson,” Mr. Latchman said.

Unlike primaries, the caucus is a low-turnout caucus that requires voters to weather the usually cold winter night for hours-long speeches and voting in their local precincts.

In 2016, Mr. Trump’s Iowa staff, including a former Apprentice contestant, hired volunteer organizers but failed to teach them how to reach meeting participants or even provide literature to leave at the door. There were many dark nights at Trump’s headquarters in suburban Des Moines, when competitors had many volunteers on the phone.

Trump’s advisers said things would be different this time. They pointed to Mr. Trump’s first visit to Iowa on Monday as the 2024 nominee. The campaign said it was tracking the names and emails of thousands of people who signed up to participate and filled a packed 2,400-seat hall in Davenport, Iowa.

How Times reporters cover politics. We expect our journalists to be independent observers. Thus, while Times employees may vote, they are not permitted to support or campaign for candidates or for political reasons. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement, or donating or raising money for any political candidate or election campaign.

“The real work of a campaign starts when the president is on the move,” Mr. Latchman said. “We’re going to continue to consistently recruit these people every single day until February.”

Mr. Trump has also bowed to campaign traditions he once shunned. During his speech in Davenport, he answered unscripted questions from the audience for 20 minutes. Prior to the rally, he unannounced a visit to Machine Shed, a popular Iowa chain.

One of Mr. Trump’s rivals, Ms. Haley, a former United Nations ambassador to the Trump administration, has traveled to Iowa twice since entering the race last month, and on both visits, she spoke at length with voters, relying on a one-on-one basis. . campaign style that helped her win election as governor of South Carolina.

Restaurant visits are a not-so-subtle way that Trump’s advisers in 2024 intend to create a contrast with his likely archrival, Mr. DeSantis, who is battling the wooden man’s reputation.

“Big rallies have worked in the past,” said Mr. Lacivita, a senior Trump adviser. “This is definitely a different campaign than in 2016. Now is another time. We’re going to do a mixture of retail politics and large-scale rallies.”

One national Republican strategist, Kyle Plotkin, had an opposing view of Iowa’s importance to Trump, noting that even if he loses there, his diehard supporters are about 30 percent of Republicans. in national polls – it would be enough for him to defeat the contenders who divided the voices of the opposition on the field.

Iowa GOP activists said Mr. Trump had a hot base of supporters, but many Republicans were open to an alternative, especially one they saw as more electable.

“I think Trump is supportive, but I wouldn’t say it’s in the bag,” said Steve Sheffler, one of two members of the Iowa Republican National Committee.

Gloria Mazza, GOP chairman for Polk County, the largest county in the state, said of the GOP base, “Are they looking for someone else? They can be”.

And Mr. Vander Plaats, the leader of the evangelical voters who make up the large Republican bloc in Iowa, said many are open to an alternative to Mr. Trump. “My concern, along with the fears of many other people, is that we are concerned about how America has pretty much decided on Donald Trump,” he said. “I think it’s time to get behind the next leader who can win in 2024.”

Mr. Vander Plaats said evangelicals had not forgotten that Mr. Trump blamed the significant Republican defeats in the 2022 midterm elections on the fact that candidates focused too much on the “abortion issue.”

“Putting the blame on the pro-life movement showed Trump’s character,” said Mr. Vander Plaats. “If you’re trying to win the Iowa caucuses, I wouldn’t put this base under a bus.”

If Mr. Pence enters the race, as many expected, the Trump campaign could run into trouble over the former vice president’s conversion to evangelical voters. And Mr. Pence may adopt a strategy of camping out in Iowa, spending most of his time in the state to put on a strong caucus.

“Mike Pence could do well in Iowa,” said Rick Tyler, Cruise’s top assistant in 2016. “I don’t think Trump has a chance in Iowa this time because he offended the evangelical base so much.”

Maggie Haberman made a report.

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GOP budget attack



Republican Senate budget planners have launched a multilateral attack on President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, while Democrats have pointed to Congressional Budget Office analysis to say the GOP House budget plans are unrealistic. David Lerman, Peter Cohn, and Paul M. Kravzak of CQ Roll Call evaluate how the Biden draft was received on Capitol Hill and what it means for the appropriation process.

Show Notes:

The post-GOP budget attack first appeared on roll call.

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Twitter Files: Massive Censorship Project Rolled Out Against Politically Incorrect Speech About COVID-19



According to the latest release of “Twitter Files”, during the pandemic, the internet watchdog, the Stanford Internet Observatory, launched a sweeping effort to purge social media platforms of unwanted opinions related to COVID, whether or not the messages were true.

Internal emails released Friday by journalist Matt Taibbi show how the Stanford Internet Observatory Virality Project coordinated with several other academic institutions and publicly funded nonprofits to conduct a massive operation to monitor vaccine misinformation and shape platform policy to rid the web of from views that have disappeared. against the liberal mainstream.

Mr Taibbi said Twitter was one of six social media platforms that partnered with the Virality Project to monitor COVID-related posts during the pandemic.

In addition to the direct line for flagging posts, the collaboration also included a periodic roundup of vaccine misinformation spread across platforms, lists of repeat offenders, and lists of “truthful content that could contribute to mistrust of vaccines.”

The package of truthful information that the Virality Project wanted to ban included “viral posts by people expressing hesitancy about vaccines” and/or “stories of real vaccine side effects.”

The watchdog also took aim at discussions about vaccine passports, warning that such messages have “spurred a broader anti-vaccine narrative of loss of rights and freedoms.”

Mr. Taibbi said the project was an “Orwellian proof of concept” that “accelerated the evolution of digital censorship from true/false judgment to a new, more frightening model that openly focuses on political narrative at the expense of facts.” “.

The Stanford Internet Observatory did not respond to a request for comment.

The Twitter Files are the result of Elon Musk opening up the company’s email vault to select journalists after he took over Twitter in October 2022. It exposed the company’s politically biased behavior and partnerships with federal officials during the 2020 presidential campaign and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 pandemic.

In February 2021, the Virality Project emailed Twitter executives announcing the newly formed partnership and started a conversation about “how we can best collaborate with the Twitter team on this work.”

“Our goal is to connect with your team through which we can spread vaccine-related misinformation narratives that we flag either on Twitter or other platforms,” ​​a spokesperson for the Virality Project wrote in an email to executives. companies. .

The Virality project was given access to Twitter’s internal ticketing system to flag posts, and announced in a March 2021 email that it was “starting to expand” its notification process to other platforms.

Speaking before the federal government’s House Arms Subcommittee last week, Mr. Taibbi and fellow Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger warned of an “industrial censorship complex” that is undermining Americans’ free speech.

In December, two journalists began revealing the extent of the federal government’s collaboration with Twitter executives to moderate content on the platform.

The Twitter files also revealed what Mr. Taibbi describes as a vast network of censorship that included online speech monitoring programs spearheaded by non-governmental organizations to suppress speech outside the mainstream.

“This is a serious threat to people of all political persuasions,” Mr. Taibbi said. “The First Amendment and the American population, accustomed to the right of speech, is the left’s best defense against the censorship industrial complex. If there’s anything the Twitter files show, it’s that we risk losing this most precious right, without which all democratic rights are impossible.”

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