Elections & Fish

Thank a veteran – and their family – today.

I don’t have a lot for you on the election – they’re still counting in some key races. But it’s close. Given all the ways they had to win a slight Senate majority, the most surprising thing to me is the position the Republicans are in there. Before the election I noted candidate quality was an issue for the Republicans and also,

My hunch is the Rs get the House – though with precision redistricting even waves aren’t what they used to be. The Senate is a toss-up and you can’t count the Dems out as some candidates seem to be in front of the headwinds. But in the end you have to give the edge to the Rs because they have more paths to control and the issue environment is rotten for the Dems (arguably made even worse by the party’s positioning on a host of issues including schools).

The counterfactuals are impossible but it does seem the Republicans should have been able to pick up some seats this cycle – NH, PA, GA, and maybe AZ given the gaps between the governor and senate races in those states? They blew it. The American people want their politicians to be more normal and do things like follow election law, that seems clear. I also am surprised the House is as tight as it is, figured they’d be able to scoop up a few more given the environment. The popular vote margin relative to outcome is noteworthy – especially given some of the rhetoric these past few years. Redistricting seems to have helped and hurt the Democrats in different places. I was definitely wrong about abortion effect – it was not baked in. I wonder though, in their heart of hearts if a lot of Republicans would have been willing to trade this outcome for getting rid of Roe?

In terms of voter behavior and demographics, we’ll have better data in a few months. This wasn’t the kind of election where all the trends are immediately obvious.

Wednesday at AEI I discussed the election results and education along with Bethany Little, Derrell Bradford (who was dressed in muted colors, read into that what you will), and Rick Hess. Masterfully moderated by Nat Malkus. We hugged. It’s here and on C-Span.

In Ed Week, Rick asked me some questions and I answered. Among other issues we talked about why fear of getting dog-piled leads outcomes like Tuesday night.

A few election night (week? month?) things to note. State legislative changes are a big deal here. Also, as we’ve talked about some around here, Ron DeSantis’ policies are not as unpopular as you heard on Twitter. His win was convincing and Democrats will have to parse it for lessons. His personal style can be off-putting but that’s obscuring an effective politics that could be an enormous bear trap for Democrats come 2024 – particularly on some social / culture issues.

Around the country a bipartisan group of governors was re-elected. Colorado’s Jared Polis, like DeSantis, by a big margin – he is someone I would watch and a longtime education player. Former state board member for one thing. Several Democrats who won Tuesday night support school choice and charters – keep an eye on that as the producer-consumer tension in the Democratic Party spills into view again. Low-key Josh Shapiro was very matter of fact about it. Overall a good night for school choice across a range of red and blue states.

For Democrats this election was a reprieve, not a vindication. How they handle that and what they takeaway will tell you a lot about how 2024 will shape up.

To expand on one point I made in the Hess interview, and my constant hope against evidence plea for political sanity: The culture war issues did not cut cleanly either way. I’m still learning results, it doesn’t look like school board races broke any particular way either (though it does look like some normies won in San Francisco, which is not nothing and the LA mayoral race is a signal).

Look, if these culture war totems were the irresistible force some people think they are then Tudor Dixon would have performed better in Michigan. But these issues will continue to matter. Across a lot of evidence it seems a majority believes schools should be inclusive for adults and kids but we don’t need to teach gender theory in grades K-3 or have schools conceal gender transitions from parents. They want spending on schools not cuts but also want improvement. They want honest history about both where this country has betrayed its values and where we’ve made remarkable progress. They don’t believe teaching about race means privilege bingo and privilege walks. They bristle at ideas from the left and right about using state power to go after parents about what are fundamentally family decisions. In other words, they reject false choices and extremism and take a common sense view to a lot of questions that raise the temperature on Fox and MSNBC. The culture wars can be won, and they will be by whichever party resists its activist class and a lesser of two kind of approach and instead forthrightly seizes that center first.

And of course the bigger deal? Addressing learning loss.

In the meantime, fish.

Here’s longtime education hand, consultant, and great human Julie Corbett from this past summer. Fishing offshore in New York and at a lake in Vermont. You’ve seen the fishing Corbetts around here a lot over the years.

You can never say it too much, take a kid fishing:

And, and this is important. Pitchers and catchers report in 94 days:

Besides the Corbetts, here are hundreds of pictures of education types and fish from over the years. Send me yours!

Enjoy the weekend.