Problems with Brickman & Petrilli’s Analysis of Common Core as an Election Issue

polling-booth_thumb.jpgMichael Brickman and Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute wrote an article at asserting that those who advocate for the Common Core have an advantage over those who oppose the Common Core in Republican primaries.

There are some problems with this article.  First it is poorly sourced.  Go figure.  We *never* expect that from Common Core advocates.

Second,  it is a logical fallacy to state that incumbents won re-election based on their advocacy for the Common Core while at the same time stating that Common Core opponents in Indiana who knocked off incumbents didn’t do so on their Common Core opposition alone.  They need to be consistent.  When I addressed the Indiana races I did recognize that it wasn’t the only issue.  I certainly didn’t deny that social issues were at play.  At least I provided an honest analysis; we can’t say the same about Brickman and Petrilli.

Third, they made some false statements regarding the Ohio Republican primary.

Heidi Huber from Ohioans Against Common Core shared with me in an email:

The Ohio Citizens PAC candidate losses are a broad brush being used to marginalize the role that Common Core played in our primary. It is also important to point out the blatant error that Kelly Kohls was an Ohioans Against Common Core candidate. We are not a PAC, thus we are prohibited from endorsing candidates. Nor did OACC distribute campaign materials on her behalf. We put our focus and resources to a viable and critical challenge to incumbent Stautberg, based on the principle that his support of Common Core violated basic Party tenet. Nonetheless, he was heavily protected and funded by the Ohio Republican Party. We beat the ORP hacks the old fashioned way, knocking on every door of primary super-voters in the district, precinct by precinct, distributing anti-Common Core literature. The materials included a handout with the RNC Resolution rejecting Common Core contrasted alongside Stautberg’s Candidacy Petition, where he declares he will support and abide by the Party platform. The tipping point was the use of non-traditional candidate signs. We placed hundreds of “GO Brinkman – STOP Common Core” signs throughout the district. That stuck with voters and we enjoyed a decisive win. It was the first time in 18 years that a Republican incumbent has been defeated in a primary. Four other OH House Republican candidates, running to replace termed out members, took their District with a heavy focus and commitment to repealing Common Core.

The Ohio Senate President, Keith Faber, addressed a pre-primary poll that showed Common Core was the number one issue with Republican voters, 65% desiring repeal. He warned his caucus to be careful to message an “I’m for local control” stance or it may costs them their election. Governor Kasich joined the choir the day before the primary, stating on WTAM 1100 radio that Common Core was “written by local school districts”.

The real story is that “we” were not OACC grassroots, but rather Hamilton County Republican Central Committee members. We supported the Republican candidate who stood true to Party principle and we succeeded in a quintessential “truth to power” victory. The Jeb Bush crowd can’t afford for that detail to get out. Hamilton County is known as “the county, in the state” and we affect national election outcomes. Did someone say, 2016?

Fourth there was at least one Congressional primary where Common Core was an issue, and the Common Core opponent won.  Why did they neglect to mention that?

Fifth, Brickman and Petrilli only list incumbents who won primary challenges.  They don’t seem to understand how hard it is to knock off incumbents who typically have better organization, more funding, party backing, earned media attention, etc.  This makes sense since they are educrats and not political/grassroots activists.  So perhaps they should stick to what is in their wheelhouse.  It takes more than being opposed to the Common Core to win a primary election.  Common Core opponents need to field quality candidates in order to beat incumbents and primary voters rarely are one-issue voters.

Sixth, there are plenty of states that haven’t had their primary yet so we’ll likely see some Common Core opponents win while others won’t and those wins and losses won’t entirely hinge on one issue.

Update: Karen Effrem pointed out to me two more instances where Common Core opposition has traction in Republican primary races in Florida.

2nd Update: Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with American Principles in Action who lives in Georgia, emailed me this afternoon the following observation about the Georgia races that Brickman and Petrilli mention:

In Georgia, the primary outcomes said little or nothing about Common Core. In the first place, dislodging an incumbent here is practically impossible. Beyond that, Common Core wasn’t a big issue in the governor’s race since the challenger, who had no money vs. Nathan Deal’s millions, didn’t emphasize it as he should – he ran almost exclusively on economic issues. Of course, the words “Common Core” never passed Deal’s lips. Re the primary to unseat House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman, Petrilli is correct that Coleman has been a staunch supporter of Common Core. But, Coleman spent his entire well-funded campaign denying that he ever supported CC and accusing his opponent of lying when he said otherwise. Even so, the percentage of votes he got this year dropped to 56% — compared with 70.4% in 2012.,_Jr..