Cory Booker trusts in data. He trusts in it more than anything else – well, almost anything else. “I want to deal with facts,” he said, responding to a question about race-based employment discrimination at The Atlantic's recent event, Reinventing the War on Poverty. “In God we trust: I’m a man of faith. But everyone else, bring me data.”

In a conversation with AtlanticLIVE Editor-in-Chief Steve Clemons, Booker laid out the numbers tying together African Americans and incarceration. “What you’ve done with the prison industrial complex is that you’ve frozen biases against the poor, against minorities.... So you’re creating these cycles of broken families of poverty.”

In his first few months in the Senate, Booker has already proposed several policies to fight poverty, calling  child poverty one of his top legislative priorities. In a January op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Booker argued for universal pre-K and unemployment insurance.

Ultimately, though, Booker believes that the first step is awareness. “What offends me in our country right now… is that the real poverty that we have in this nation is a poverty of conscience, a poverty of action, and a poverty of engagement on these issues.”