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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With or without Donald J. Trump atop the party, the Republican strategy for the 2022 elections and beyond virtually assures race — and racism — will be central to political debate for years to come. 

Why it matters: In an era when every topic seems to turn quickly to race, Republicans see this most divisive issue as either political necessity or an election-winner — including as it relates to voting laws, critical race theory, big-city crime, immigration and political correctness. 

The big picture: These topics pit the mostly white GOP against the very diverse Democratic Party. It's unfolding in local school boards, national politics and on social media.

An Axios-Ipsos poll on race relations last month shows this starkly, Axios managing editor Margaret Talev writes:

  • There's a massive gulf between how Republicans and Democrats view race — a 66-point gap on whether the U.S. must continue making changes to give Black Americans equal rights to white Americans. 
  • There's a 48-point gap on whether the events of the past year led to a realization there's still a lot of racism in the U.S. — and a 49-point gap on whether the protests were good for society.

Of all demographic groups, white people were the most resistant to structural reforms to address institutional racism — a gap driven by Republican sentiment.

  • Chris Jackson of Ipsos Public Affairs says the GOP focus on race looks counterproductive at first, since a majority of Americans favor continued efforts to equalize the playing field for Black Americans.
  • But the pollster said a closer look reveals that the GOP's focus is more strategic — around specific ideas that drive culture wars and could potentially move swing voters.

Here's where the GOP sees an opening: In our poll, just one in five white independents supports the "defund the police" movement.

  • Half of white independents say the media exaggerates stories of police brutality and racism.
  • Two in five white independents say social policies, including affirmative action, discriminate unfairly against white people.
  • Those issues prime this slice of the electorate for messaging that paints Democrats as extreme on issues around race.

Between the lines: Republicans have at times played on racial fears for decades. It became more explicit in the Trump era.

Go deeper

Sep 10, 2021 - World

Queen Elizabeth and royal family support BLM movement, representative says

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Jane Barlow/Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family support the Black Lives Matter movement, a senior representative said in a television interview that will be broadcast Friday, AP reports.

The big picture: The remarks come after Prince Harry and Meghan in March accused the family of racism, saying unnamed relatives expressed concern about how dark their baby's skin would be.

Sep 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive poll: Americans favor Manchin's "strategic pause"

Expand chart
Data: No Labels; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Six in 10 Americans favor the call by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for a “strategic pause” on Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending plan, according to new polling by the bipartisan policy group No Labels shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The survey of 974 registered voters, conducted Tuesday, is the latest flash point in the fight over infrastructure — and how aggressively Democrats should move on a budget reconciliation package to allow them to enact key planks of President Biden's agenda without a single GOP vote.

Treasury sanctions cryptocurrency exchange over ransomware transactions

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a congressional hearing in June 2021. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of the Treasury announced Tuesday it will sanction cryptocurrency exchange SUEX for allegedly facilitating financial transactions for multiple ransomware actors.

Why it matters: The sanctions, the first against a cryptocurrency exchange platform, are a part of the Biden administration's crackdown on ransomware in response to several high-profile cyberattacks this year.