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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Have Growing Mandate to Help Poor

The first presidential primary debates of both parties made it clear that only one party embraces a commitment to government policies to help people living in poverty. Fortunately for Dems, an increasing percentage of Americans are embracing this commitment as well, according to analysis of recent polls conducted by Ruy Teixeira. As Teixeira reports in his Center for American Progress post “Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans Extend Helping Hand to the Poor“:

Politicians tend to avoid the subject of poverty on the theory that voters aren’t very interested in helping the poor. Yet public opinion data consistently shows that the public is very willing to extend a helping hand to the least fortunate in society.
…A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in January of this year, for example, shows that 69 percent agree that “the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep” and an identical 69 percent agree that “it is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.” These figures are up 10 and 12 points respectively relative to their recent low point in 1994.
Americans are also willing to consider a wide range of options for helping the poor…an NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard poll from 2001…shows, four proposals garnered 80 percent support or higher: expanding subsidized day care, increasing the minimum wage, spending more for medical care for poor people, and increasing the tax credit for low-income workers. Yet every option offered, even increasing cash assistance for families, received majority support.

Teixeira’s post includes a set of graphics showing strong support for a host of anti-poverty measures, and includes a link to the Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty policy report “From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half” — highly recommended for Democrats interested in anti-poverty reforms.

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