Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, quoted by Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan: “Those saying ‘education’ is simply a proxy for racism, and that this result is proof that white or conservative parents really don’t want schools to teach about topics like slavery or give a complete picture of American history, have misread the full picture of parents’ anxieties.”

Anderson found 77% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats agreeing “we should acknowledge the terrible things that have happened in our nation’s history regarding race so students can learn from them and make the future better.” But parents were “alarmed” by “anything that seems to be deterministic about race, such as telling children their skin color will shape their future.” They are uncomfortable “with anything that feels like it is separating children by race.” They’re “also alarmed” by the learning loss that happened during the pandemic, and “upset” over efforts to gut gifted-and-talented education in the name of equity.

“Democrats have allowed themselves to be associated with — to become the political home of — progressive thinking. They thought they had to….[that] progressives would beat them to a pulp if they didn’t get with the program. They thought it would play itself out. This was a mistake. You can’t associate a great party with cultural extremism and not eventually pay a price.

What happened in Virginia, Noonan writes, translates to what a crusty political operative told her decades ago. “He had no patience for high-class analyses featuring trends and contexts,” she recalls. “When voters moved sharply against a party he’d say, ‘The dogs don’t like the dog food.’ Tuesday they vomited it up.”