Critical swing voters would support a presidential candidate who endorses investments in early-childhood education.
Sixty-nine percent of Latinos, 62 percent of millennials, and 57 percent of those who identify as moderate would be impressed with a candidate who supports such investments, according to a new poll from the First Five Years Fund.
“This is an area where people clearly see a need,” said Jay Campbell, a senior vice president at Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling team that partnered with the Republican Public Opinion Strategies polling firm to conduct the survey, during a call with reporters. Whether a person has a child makes little difference in their views.
Beyond swing voters, there is broad bipartisan support for increasing federal investments to help states bolster early-childhood education for low- and moderate-income families. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans support the idea, with 86 percent of Latinos and 87 percent of millennials also backing the proposal.
There is a “true opportunity” for presidential candidates when it comes to early-childhood education, said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, which supports early-childhood-education investments and commissioned the poll for the third year running.
Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, said that the “pushback one might expect” when federal spending is considered has not materialized when it comes to early-childhood education.
A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters say they would back a plan that would provide $10 billion a year for 10 years in grants to states to support preschool programs for poor and moderate-income kids. While there has been broad support for early-childhood investments for each of the three years the poll has been conducted, this year’s poll found for the first time equal support for “making sure children get a strong start in life so they perform better in school and succeed in their careers,” and for “improving the quality of public education.” A full 89 percent of those surveyed say these two issues should be top priorities.
When asked to prioritize either early-childhood or higher-education spending, 42 percent support more investments in early-childhood education, while just 21 percent choose college.
Unlike with hot-button issues like immigration reform and abortion, there is some bipartisan support for early-childhood spending. Hillary Clinton has called for universal preschool, while Jeb Bush backed a state-funded preschool initiative that served over 70 percent of 4-year-olds in Florida. Both the Obama administration and conservative states like Georgia have touted investments in early childhood in recent years as a way to boost public health. Politically, this survey indicates those investments are favorable when it comes to wooing voters.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
This story is part of our Next America: Early Childhood project, which is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.