Ahead of the 2020 election, Rachel Rowland of Flint Hill, Virginia, saw something she did not like. Farmer Mike Massie had stacked bales of hay wrapped in plastic on his property that read: "Farmers for Trump 2020. Keep America Great."

She complained to the Rappahannock County commission! 

A Biden supporter, she wrote on Facebook, "This isn’t about the candidate. We have a large, very large, new political campaign sign in our county … Are signs this gigantic allowed?"

Even though she's lived in Rappahannock for more than 40 years, the Washington Post used her Karen moment as the basis for its story, "Rappahannock leans conservative. But transplants are changing the county’s politics, longtime residents say."

That was 2020. Two years and two elections later, Democrats realize their hostility to all things rural carries a price. 

Democrats are in a panic. They carried Virginia in 2020 as they did in 2016 but in 2021 Democrats lost the governorship, lieutenant governorship and attorney general's race in an uproar against unreported rapes in schools, racist classes and the arrest of parents at school board meetings.

That the biggest uproar against how Democrats run schools was in the liberal enclave of Virginia still has not registered with Democrats.

But they look at rural America and realize they have a huge problem. Apparently the last 6 years of reporting by Salena Zito did not get through to them.

The polling firm Morning Consult reported this morning, "The Culture War Has Democrats Facing Electoral Demise in Rural America. Can They Stop the Bleeding? New survey of rural voters shows what’s driving the party’s increasingly barren showings, and potential avenues for recovery."

The numbers are about what you would expect.

52% look at Republicans favorably. 29% look at Democrats favorably.

This is the opposite of the way things were when I moved to West Virginia 40 years ago. 

Rather than talk to the rural voters who now prefer  Republicans, Morning Consult talked to Democrats.

For example, it reported, "Former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat who was re-elected in 2016 when Trump carried the state by 16 percentage points, said his party has a decent policy pitch to make to the voters in rural America."

Montana was a purple state that went Republican in presidential races but usually split statewide races between the two parties. Democrat Jon Tester is one of its two senators.

Bullock lost by 11 points in 2020.

Maybe Morning Consult should have talked to the winner of that race, Republican Steve Daines, to find out how to win rural votes.

While Morning Consult said Democrats should be encouraged to see that rural America is diversifying, I see the exodus as a rejection of Democrat urban policies.

Florida's population is growing as northerners leave liberal enclaves for freedom. These new Floridians are registering as Republicans, not Democrats. Last summer, Republicans finally broke the Democrat edge on voter registrations after 165 years.

Now it may be that Republicans finally got fed up and left. It may be that Democrats saw the light when they changed states. Either way, this does not bode well for Democrats.

Which brings me back to the 2021 Virginia election. The school board battles that cost Democrats the state races were in liberal strongholds such as Loudoun County.

And it is not a one-off matter.

Billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg wrote about San Francisco's recall of three school board members last week. He correctly sees this as a seismic event for Democrats.

He wrote, "First, the school board members failed to show any urgency in reopening schools even when it was clear that doing so was safe — and that remote classes were leaving students further and further behind."

Private schools re-opened, public schools did not.

He wrote, "Second, the school board members seemed more concerned with political correctness than educating children. Instead of reopening schools, they spent their time renaming them, stripping off the names of historic figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln before a public outcry forced them to reverse course."

Thousands of miles away, I see humor in renaming schools instead of reopening them. We keep things simple in Poca, West Virginia. Poca Elementary School. Poca Middle School. Poca High School. 

Bloomberg wrote, "Third, the school board members voted to eliminate merit-based admissions at one of the nation’s top-performing schools. Students had long been admitted based on their grades and tests, until the board moved to a lottery system. Make no mistake: Lowering standards in the name of fairness only exacerbates injustice and inequality. Closing achievement gaps must be done by creating more high-quality schools, not undermining existing ones. Voters understand this, and they will keep casting their ballots for candidates who do, too."

In total, Democrats did everything they could do to alienate parents who actually care about the education of their children.

Bloomberg ended his column, "Swing voters will decide the 2022 midterm elections, and right now, polls show they are swinging away from Democrats. The earthquake that shook San Francisco needs to shake up our party, before voters do it themselves in November."

He likely knows better than I do about elections because he was elected to office three times as a non-Democrat in the highly Democrat city of New York.

But I am wondering if the problem for Democrats is not the swing votes they will lose but the Democrats who will stay home and not vote.

Or worse, the Democrats who will move and vote Republican.

The Democrat problem is not the 170 bales of hay making up a Trump for president sign.

The Democrat problem is policies that alienate parents and other voters. 

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