New poll: Iowans want to hear about kids’ issues

Ed Tibbetts, The Quad City Times

Rivaling the economy in importance, Iowa voters say they want the next president to make improving the health, education and well-being of children a major part of his or her agenda, a new poll released Tuesday says.

Meanwhile, the child advocacy groups that commissioned the poll said they will push 2016 presidential candidates in both parties to be responsive to children’s issues.

The poll, conducted in the first week of July, said 77 percent of Iowa voters believe improving the health, education and well-being of children is a high priority, second only to creating jobs and improving the economy, which was rated a high priority by 81 percent.

Following those issues in the poll were balancing the budget and reducing the federal deficit and pursuing terrorists.

The child advocacy groups hope the candidates and the media will respond by giving more attention to the issues than they did during the 2012 campaign.

“I think that the overwhelming response that we saw was that kids rate high as an issue,” said Charles Bruner, director of the Iowa-based Child and Family Policy Center, which commissioned the poll along with the Every Child Matters Education Fund, which is based in Washington, D.C., but has an Iowa component.

The groups said they were struck by an additional finding that when asked to focus on their top concern, 29 percent of voters ranked children’s issues as their first or second top concern, while 23 percent identified jobs and the economy.

That, they said, is an indicator of the importance of children’s issues in this election cycle.

“The economy is not going to dominate everything in this election,” said Stephen Clermont, the director of policy and research for Every Child Matters.

Republicans polled were more likely to be concerned about social and moral threats to the well-being of children, while Democrats were more likely to accentuate economic issues, Bruner said.

But Bruner added that the key thing is that candidates articulate their approaches and debate them. “The basic point is that both Republicans and Democrats care … and would like to see candidates speak more to those issues,” he said

The poll said that 65 percent of respondents were skeptical about their kids’ futures. And 77 percent said they would view a politician more favorably if he or she made child abuse prevention as a major element of their agenda.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Company, the firm that conducts the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll. The survey of 501 Iowans who had voted in either the 2012 or 2014 election, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Originally published July 28, 2015 The Quad City Times