We've known since the beginning of September that the endorsees of the Wake Community Schools Alliance were probably going to sweep the school board election.
A survey we conducted then found that 61% of voters in District 1 were opposed to the district's diversity policy, that 63% in District 2 were, that 57% in District 7 were, and that 63% in District 9 were. Those numbers all match up more or less with the results last night.
Concerns over the policy were enough to get voters to cross party lines. 40% of people we had identified as likely voters for yesterday were Democrats while only 34% were Republicans. But that same group of voters said by a 43-32 margin that it preferred to vote for GOP Board of Education candidates this year.
Overall 61% of voters opposed the policy with only 29% in support of it in that early September poll. Perhaps most telling 46% of African Americans were opposed to it with only 39% supportive. And even Democrats overall were only narrowly supportive, 49/39, while Republicans were opposed 82/9 and independents were 66/25.
Last week we polled the horse race in each of the four districts. We showed all of the WCSA endorsees winning, but not by the sorts of margins they ended up getting last night. That's because our polling was focused on people who had voted in at least one off year election since 2003. The landslide nature of the victories is an indication that many people who had never voted in a school board election before came out yesterday, and that they were all there to vote for WCSA candidates.
Cathy Truitt's decision to run to the left of John Tedesco in the runoff is an interesting one because our poll found that 68% of her supporters are opposed to the district's diversity policy while only 11% favor it. She may risk losing many of the voters she had yesterday by reaching out to the supporters of Horace Tart, although I guess there's a reasonable school of thought that she has no chance to win without drawing clear differences between herself and Tedesco.
Interestingly even Tart's supporters only said they were in favor of the existing Wake policy by a 44-34 margin.
For all the money spent and hard campaigning of the last month these races were effectively decided a long time ago. Rarely is an election so fixated on one issue that voters are so passionate about, and when that is the case the candidates who are on the side of the majority of the public end up winning. Not a lot of minds were being changed one way or the other about the current policy.