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Politics Podcast: Why Politicians Love A Good Wedge Issue

Over the past year, many Republicans have repeatedly claimed that education has run amok under Democratic control and that parents need more say in the classroom. There have been debates over school closures, masking, transgender students competing in school sports, and how teachers talk about race, gender and sexuality.

You could say that education has become something of a wedge issue — in other words, an issue that parties use to try to divide the opposing party to shake loose new voters. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen Druke speaks with political science professors Sunshine Hillygus and Patrick Egan about the history of wedge issues and how they have shaped U.S. politics.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.