New polling data indicates that growing numbers of likely voters, both Republicans and Democrats, are concerned about hunger and poverty. The research found that 50% of likely voters believe that "the hunger problem in the United States is getting worse," an increase from 38 percent in 2002.
Polling was conducted by Thomas Z. Freedman and Jim McLaughlin as part of their multi-year surveys for the Alliance to End Hunger and Bread for the World. The purpose of the surveys is to better understand American attitudes about issues of poverty and hunger and how best to communicate with voters. This report, available at http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/, provides a comprehensive account of key public opinion trends that the Hunger Message Project has identified over the past five years, and to describe what those trends mean for politics in 2007 and 2008.
Between May 2003 and June 2007, the percentage of likely voters who said that "a candidate's position on reducing the hunger problem" was very important when deciding their vote for Congress nearly doubled from 23 percent to 44 percent. A majority of those polled, 54 percent, do not believe that "political candidates have spent an adequate amount of time discussing hunger and poverty issues."
The launch event introduced the new Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity initiative as a three-tiered program, including:
1) A website, http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ that includes information on candidates' statements and proposals on poverty and filmed responses of several presidential candidates answering questions on poverty in America. The website also will provide daily news updates, opinion, research and census data, and links to blogs on poverty and hunger.
2) Forums and opportunities for national and local candidates and elected officials to discuss their ideas and views on poverty and solutions that can create opportunity.
3) A continuing post-2008 election effort to ensure that poverty and opportunity issues are prominent on the national policy agenda and to press elected officials to fulfill their campaign promises.
"More and more Americans understand how important this issue is to our country," said Douglas W. Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "The effects of poverty go far beyond the short-term hardship for millions of families, to its tragic, long-term consequences for children. Nearly 13 million children in America are living in poverty, and it negatively affects their health, lowers their educational attainment, increases their risk of future arrest and incarceration, and robs them of hope for a successful future," he said.
"At this important time reducing poverty should be moved from the back burner of policy discussions," he added. "The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity initiative will help to make sure that happens."
"The need to address poverty is being discussed today in a way that it hasn't been in decades," says Andrea Silbert, president of the Eos Foundation. "The new polling confirms that it's not just advocacy organizations and foundations that are focusing on these issues, but individual voters as well. Voters are clearly frustrated with government progress and want practical, innovative, bi-partisan solutions that involve governments, non-profits and the private sector."
This is an exciting development in my view. Hunger and poverty are the issues we address on a daily basis here at CDM. I'm grateful for the leadership of private foundations in providing the resources needed to keep these issues in the forefront of our approaching national election.
Check out the website. Then, let me know what you think.