"Florida is where woke goes to die," according to the Sunshine State's governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, who has based much of his expected 2024 presidential campaign on being "anti-woke."
But a new poll from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal is devastating to many of the policies being promoted and enacted by Governor DeSantis in his "free state of Florida," calling into question how he and other Republicans who embrace his ideas will fare on the national stage.
"Patriotism, religious faith, having children and other priorities that helped define the national character for generations are receding in importance to Americans," warns the WSJ, with some on social media pointing to a graphic that purports to capture how much America has changed in the past 25 years.
The importance of issues of patriotism, religion, having children, and community involvement have dropped dramatically across America. The one that has increased? Money.
One Democratic strategist calls it "eye-popping."
Money is also the only issue on which Democrats and Republicans both agree.
But the real siren for Republicans comes in answers to so-called "culture war" questions.
The gap between Democrats and Republicans, expectedly, is huge, but DeSantis – should he launch a presidential run – will confront conservative and independent voters (not to mention, of course, Democrats) who aren't as keen on, say, banning books, as he might like.
Asked, "Which of these concerns you more about schools today?," a whopping 61% chose "some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important." Just 36% opted for "some schools may teach books and topics that some students or their parents feel are inappropriate or offensive."
And more than half the country (56%) say they have some or a great deal of confidence in public schools. Just one-third (33%) said very little or none.
DeSantis' attempts to radically reshape the concept of public education in Florida made another dramatic move last week, when the Republican-majority legislature passed a bill the expands the school voucher program to every student. It could decimate enrollment in public schools, which would also reduce the amount of federal funding public schools in the Sunshine State get. Expected to cost billions, it could also lead to expansions of private and faith-based schools.
Monday morning, surrounded by school children, DeSantis signed it into law.
And yet nationally, according to the WSJ poll, a plurality of Americans oppose school vouchers.
"Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose states giving parents tax-funded vouchers they can use to help pay for tuition for their children to attend private or religious schools of their choice instead of public schools?"
37% oppose the vouchers.
34% support them.
Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton campaign national spokesperson Josh Schwerin lists a "few findings from the new WSJ poll that should scare Republicans relying on 'woke' attacks": "1) Tolerance is as important as money 2) Book banning is far worse than offensive content 3) Majorities think society has been about right or not gone far enough on range of DEI issues."
For those who look at Trump rallies, watch right-wing news, or listen to GOP politicians or influencers, the idea that another "red wave" is coming next year may seem real, but even the right-wing Wall Street Journal found that a plurality of voters (44%) identify as Democrats – and just 38% identify as Republicans. 18% call themselves independents without leaning one way or another.
Nearly half the country (47%) identifies as moderate.
One issue from the poll DeSantis and the GOP do seem to have support on is diminishing the rights of transgender Americans, who are under attack every day.
Despite increased anti-trans hate crimes, despite the 430 anti-LGBTQ bills filed this year alone (according to the ACLU), a plurality of Americans (43%) say society has "gone too far" in accepting transgender people. Just one-third say society hasn't gone far enough.
But on other issues of equality, as Schwerin mentioned, nearly half the country (48%) say society has not gone far enough in promoting equality between men and women. And pluralities also say society has not gone far enough in accepting people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual (37%), and businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity (39%).
There's another statistic that also flies directly in the face of DeSantis and his "where woke goes to die" motto.
Two-thirds of the country say society has either not gone far enough has been "about right" on "Schools and universities taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity."
Just three in ten Americans (30%) say society has gone too far.
See the video and graphics above or at this link.