Poll: Voters Want Candidates to Focus More on Kids

From our friends at the First Focus Campaign for Children:

A new poll shows that, among likely voters who have heard or seen the presidential candidates talk about childrens issues at all, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) feel the presidential campaigns should increase their focus on childrens issues. The First Focus Campaign for Children survey also found that 82 percent will consider a candidates 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 childrens issues, because a large majority (82%) says the candidates position will affect their vote, wrote POS Partner Jim Burton, in a memo accompanying the polls 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.

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 childrens issues suggests an opportunity for Gov. Romney.

Voters Reject Attacks on Children

The poll shows that a congressional budget plan, which would make deep cuts in childrens 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 Childrens Health Insurance Program (74 percent).

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 Americas 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).

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 childrens 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 Childrens Health Insurance Program.

The politicians might be divided, but Republicans and Democrats, Tea Party supporters and fiscal conservatives all agree on one simple priority: dont 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.

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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan childrens advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.