Poll: Voters Want Candidates to Focus More on Kids

September 20, 2012

Washington — A new poll shows that, among likely voters who have heard or seen the presidential candidates talk about children’s issues at all, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) feel the presidential campaigns should increase their focus on children’s issues. The First Focus Campaign for Children survey also found that 82 percent will consider a candidate’s position on federal budget issues affecting children (and 40 percent to a significant degree), when casting their November ballots.

“Voters are sending President Obama and Governor Romney two clear signals: one – focus more on kids; and two – your position on kids’ issues will matter in November,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.

The poll was completed by Public Opinion Strategies (POS), a nationally-recognized opinion research firm that works with Republican campaigns and in corporate and public affairs. POS’ client list includes six Governors, 19 U.S. Senators, and over 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. POS is also the Republican half of the bipartisan team that conducts the monthly survey for NBC and the Wall Street Journal.

“Voters say they want to hear more from the presidential campaigns on children’s issues, because a large majority (82%) says the candidate’s position will affect their vote,” wrote POS Partner Jim Burton, in a memo accompanying the poll’s topline results.

Other key findings include:

  • Obama Has Big Edge On Kids’ Issues — Respondents gave President Barack Obama a ten point lead over Governor Mitt Romney (42-32 percent) on handling the problems children face today. By contrast, other recent national polls show that the president and Gov. Romney are now tied on the question of which is better able to handle the economy.
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  • But Romney Leads With Some Key Voters — The question of which candidate would perform better for kids is a toss-up for several key electoral demographics. In fact, Gov. Romney holds narrow leads over the president on that question among some middle-aged men, women over 55, and some middle-income voters. This — and the fact that fewer than half of likely voters deemed President Obama better able to handle children’s issues — suggests an opportunity for Gov. Romney.
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  • Voters Reject Attacks on Children — The poll shows that a congressional budget plan, which would make deep cuts in children’s initiatives and is on the agenda for post-election debate, is out-of-touch with voters. A majority of voters rejected cuts to student loans (59 percent), early education through Head Start (59 percent), and child care (54 percent). Two-thirds rejected cuts to child abuse and neglect prevention and response (66 percent) and the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit (63 percent). And three-fourths of likely voters rejected cuts to education (75 percent), Medicaid (which provides health care for 30 million children and earned the support of 73 percent of respondents), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (74 percent).
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  • Tea Party Supporters Reject Attacks on Children — The poll found that sizeable blocs of likely voters who favor the Tea Party join other voters in rejecting budget cuts to critical investments in America’s children. Majorities of Tea Party supporters opposed cuts to child abuse and neglect prevention and response (64 percent), Medicaid (62 percent), education (58 percent), and working family tax credits (56 percent).
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  • Fiscal Conservatives Reject Attacks on Children — Nine-out-of-ten voters (91 percent) reported being concerned with the federal budget deficit (with 62 percent being very concerned), and fiscal conservatives took pro-children positions on key issues. Two thirds (63 percent of) fiscally conservative voters concerned with the deficit said the presidential candidates had not focused enough on children’s issues. More than half (58 percent) of fiscal conservatives rejected cuts to Head Start. Fiscal conservatives overwhelmingly supported the idea of covering every uninsured baby at birth (70 percent), with nearly half (45 percent) of these voters strongly supporting that proposal. Three-fourths (75 percent) opposed education cuts, and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) opposed cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

 

“The politicians might be divided, but Republicans and Democrats, Tea Party supporters and fiscal conservatives all agree on one simple priority: don’t cut kids,” said Lesley.

POS surveyed 800 likely voters by telephone (655 on landlines, and 145 on cell phones), between September 10 and September 13, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of ± 3.46 percent.

Contact:
Ed Walz
(202) 657-0685 (office)