The election is tomorrow and the campaign ads are everywhere. The later into election season you get, the more attack ads you will see. What most people wouldn’t expect is that the villain in those attack ads is the Secretary of Education.
All around the country Betsy DeVos has been cast as the central villain in attack ads. From her home state of Michigan and all the way down to Texas, DeVos has become the go-to antagonist for progressives.
It’s highly unusual for a Secretary of Education to be cited this often on the campaign trail, so why this year and why Betsy DeVos? As it turns out, there are a couple of reasons she makes a good target for left-wing candidates.
First and foremost, DeVos is deeply unpopular. Even among the Trump administration’s other controversial figures, DeVos stands out. A Politico survey found that DeVos had the lowest approval rating of anyone in the Trump administration at 23 percent. Her approval rating is lower than most of the actual political platforms and issues she pushes for. It’s also lower than President Trump’s approval rating. This makes DeVos a useful progressive target even in deeply red states that Trump won in the last election. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke who’s been using DeVos in his bid to oust Sen. Ted Cruz.
Secondly, education issues are working for Democrats this year. Education has been debated more in this election than any other in recent memory, particularly education funding and benefits. Teachers have been mobilized to point of walking out. Furthermore, Republicans with their budget slashing and tax cutting are generally seen as being on the wrong end of this issue. Educators are running for office all around the country and the vast majority are Democrats, but even conservatives are grappling with the Republican stance on education issues as evident by primary results in Kentucky.
Judging by the polls coming out of some of the places where DeVos is being used, the tactic appears to be working. In DeVos’s home state of Michigan where she was already a household name before she became Secretary of Education, recent polls have shown voters have an even lower opinion of her than the rest of the country. The vast majority of Democrats and Independents view her unfavorably but so do a third of Republicans. This has led Michigan Democrats to double down across the board on attacking DeVos.
Beto O’Rourke has slammed Ted Cruz multiple times for backing Betsy DeVos and included her in multiple ads. For his efforts, O’Rourke is polling significantly higher than any Texas Democrat Senate candidate has finished since the late 80s.
It remains to be seen what will happen on election day. But what is for sure is that if Democrats see success at the ballot box, you can expect to hear more about Betsy DeVos in 2020.