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Vouchers Are Not A Relevant Topic To GOP Primary Voters. Abbott Wants to Change That

School choice was one the most visible discussion on education topics in 2023, but to primary voters, it’s not that important. Still, Gov. Greg Abbott is using all of his resources to make vouchers a key issue in the primary election.

In 2023, Abbott spent a lot of time touring schools across Texas to sell voters on school vouchers, and he even called on religious leaders to talk about the proposal.

When the time came, the House blocked the school choice legislation. Abbott is still actively campaigning against Republicans who voted against vouchers by endorsing their primary opponents.

But contrary to what Greg Abbott would have you believe, school vouchers are not a top issue for Texans or Republicans in the primary.

According to a report by the Austin American-Statesman, Republicans are more likely to vote on issues such as border security, immigration, inflation and political corruption.

A December poll by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas found that even when voters ranked only education-specific issues, other education policies had more support than school vouchers.

Another February 2024 poll found that when Republican primary voters were asked what issues were important to them in the primary election, only 2% mentioned vouchers or school choice; education as a whole was mentioned by 5%.

According to this poll, the top issues for Republicans are immigration/border security (64%), the economy (23%), abortion (10%), inflation (10%), taxes (6%), education (5%), gun violence (4%), and government spending (4%).

Abbott is campaigning against the 21 House rural Republicans who voted to strip school choice from an omnibus bill. 16 of them are up for re-election, and Abbott has endorsed some of their opponents. His campaign though might not be enough to unseat those Republicans.

“It’s not clear to me that Abbott’s endorsement alone is going to shift voting patterns and negate all the work these members have done to build support in their community,” said Joshua Blank, research director of the Politics Project.

Abbott also has plenty of money to promote vouchers and candidates who support the policy, because he received a $6 million contribution in January from Jeff Yass, a Pennsylvania billionaire who supports school choice.

If Abbott wants to unseat Republicans who oppose vouchers, he may have to spend a lot of resources.

“He’s raised a huge war chest full,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “That has to actually materialize in a meaningful way. The governor’s track record of success in trying to oust people he disagrees with is not great.”

For now, the latest polls show vouchers are not a relevant issue, but that could change in the coming weeks leading up to the March 5 primary.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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