Early Election Takeaways – Split Verdict On Taxes, Education Implications Abound…

Everyone rested after a quiet evening?

Obviously, the presidential race is still being counted. President Trump’s premature claim of victory last night should offend all Americans, even if he prevails when the votes are counted. It shows why so many, myself included, have such grave doubts about his allegiance to our sacred democratic traditions. More than any other state I’m watching Pennsylvania, it could be the back breaker and then Michigan. It was hard to miss how much time the Biden team was spending in Pennsylvania during the closing week. For now Biden appears to be in a stronger position to get to 270 in outstanding states if mail in ballots hew to historic trends. 270-290 seem reasonable guesses given that Biden needs to win Pennsylvania or not lose both WI and MI, which seems unlikely. And obviously Trump knows this or he wouldn’t have pulled that stunt last night. Still, in 2020, that’s a definite “if” though. It does appear that the five things I mentioned as reasons Trump could pull it out happened to a meaningful degree regardless of the final counts and are why it’s close.

We’ll know soon enough, but in the meantime some things are clear that will impact education. For starters, not only did the Democrats underperform, the Republican Party became more diverse last night, Republican women performed particularly well. And we talked just yesterday about inroads the President might have made – and it appears that happened. “Wokeness” was not on the ballot last night strictly speaking, but it’s clear Democrats and Democratic elites are misreading the country and that has implications for schools.

If you care about equity there is certainly an argument to be made that having the two parties really fighting over various demographics rather than assuming their votes would be a healthy development for America. This is almost certainly good news for school choice and possibly a healthier politics around public services in general.

Senate Democratic candidates underperformed, I had assumed recruitment + a favorable climate + polling would lead to gains. At this point under any scenario Republicans will have a lot of leverage in the Senate if not a majority, and Senator Harris may be spending more time in her old haunts than she had planned if she and Biden win.

This means among other things that a Covid relief package is not going be rammed through – that has implications for schools as Republicans have been muted in their enthusiasm for a lot of new spending there…A lot of mail in votes still to count but John James, the Republican Black businessman and veteran performed well in Michigan. Susan Collins is way ahead of expectations. Assuming Republicans keep control, the choices for chair of the Senate committee that oversees education are going to be interesting.  For Democrats, charter school’s have a new ally with former Colorado Governor John Hicklenlooper winning convincingly. New Arizona Senator Mark Kelly is from a state with a lot of charters.

In California, it appears the referendum to restore affirmative action and the tax reform proposal to raise more money from business property taxes are both going to fail. The affirmative action one in particular will raise hard questions about that issue given that it was a 2020 California electorate with a home state senator on the national ticket. In Arizona the education tax increase on that state’s ballot seems poised to pass in what was a good Democratic night there.

Drug legalization had a very strong night on the ballot with multiple states passing marijuana measures and DC decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms. I noted over at The 74 that regardless of your views on drug policy the inconsistency between federal and state laws and   general evolution of this policy creates some challenges for school administrators.

In Washington State the sex ed referendum passed. Donna Shalala, who is a fine public servant, former university provost and president, and former HHS Secretary for President Clinton was washed out in the wave in Miami-Dade last night. She serves on the House Education and Labor Committee.

More to come but that’s the early version.