GOP’s 'anti-woke' panic is turning off voters: strategist

GOP’s 'anti-woke' panic is turning off voters: strategist
Governor Ron DeSantis Screengrab

Panic-inducing cultural crusades that include banning books involving sexual orientation from classrooms and cracking down on drag performances, are missing their mark, according to a strategist writing for The Bulwark Tuesday.

The problem is that swing voters are simply not tuned into this Republican cause — and are even actively turned off by it, wrote Rich Thau, the president of the research firm Engagious.

"We talked to seven Republicans, four Democrats, and three Independents across two sessions on April 11," he wrote. "The short answer is: The war on woke still isn’t resonating."

These voters, wrote Thau, often didn't have a definition of "woke," and when they did, it was unfavorable to the GOP. One voter identified as "Scott," for example, defined "woke" as "a term that was initiated by right-wing media to try to stop the progressive movement under the age of 30" and "a scare tactic."

When asked about specific policies, these swing voters' positions were more complicated but by no means highly favorable to the GOP. They were open to restricting "classroom instruction" on sexuality for young children and limiting transgender athletes from competing in their gender category — two issues the GOP has pursued — but were not on board with other GOP "anti-woke" policies like banning books, opposing "critical race theory," and cracking down on cities that "defund the police."

"And the vast majority of them saw it as negative if a candidate endorses all five policies, with some calling it "pandering" and saying politicians should "focus on things that actually matter."

This tracks with polls broadly showing that most voters actually see "wokeness" as positive and don't support Republicans attacking businesses that celebrate diversity.

"The anti-woke platform may play well with Republican base voters," concluded Thau. "But come the general election in 2024, it’s hard to see combating wokeness driving vote choice."

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