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Early primary states don't really care about the Common Core

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Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

According to a Politico survey, Iowa Republicans are describing the Common Core as the most problematic part of Jeb Bush's campaign in the state. If that's true, it's bad news: the later primaries will be even tougher.

The state-level politics of Common Core don't always line up neatly with partisan divisions: one of the biggest battlegrounds is relatively liberal New York. Compared with the rest of the country, Iowa and New Hampshire are friendly territory.

The most recent poll of Iowa voters that asked about the issue found that 47 percent of the state's Republicans like the Common Core. A poll from Bloomberg and the Des Moines Register, also from February, found that 30 percent of likely caucus-goers say Bush's stances on Common Core and immigration are deal-breakers but didn't break out which issue would cause the most grief.

Jeb Bush bloomberg poll

(Bloomberg Politics)

In New Hampshire, where the state legislature just abandoned efforts to get rid of Common Core, it's even less of a deal-breaker: 20 percent, according to a Bloomberg poll. In both states, the implementation of the standards has been relatively drama-free.

This doesn't mean the Common Core won't be an issue for Bush in the early primary states. It just means it will be much more of a problem in states where Common Core has been a major source of political drama.

In New York, a January poll found 60 percent of Republicans want the standards to be stopped. South Carolina has abandoned them entirely. On Common Core, Iowa and New Hampshire aren't bellwethers — they're unusually friendly enclaves.

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