A DIVIDED ELECTORATE IS UNITED ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.
In the midst of an angry and polarized election, 90% of voters agree on one thing: Congress and the next president should work together to make quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families. That includes 78% of Trump supporters and 97% of Clinton supporters. The First Five Years Fund’s annual national poll shows that early childhood education is one of the best ways for candidates to connect with voters because it is one of their top priorities–regardless of party.
Quality early childhood education is a top priority issue along with improving education and jobs. 80% say making sure that our children get a strong start in life through quality early childhood education is extremely or very important to them personally.
There is overwhelming support—with little opposition—for a federal plan that helps states and local communities provide better access to quality early childhood education. Nearly three quarters of the electorate support this plan: 73% favor and only 24% oppose. 54% of Republicans, 70% of Independents, 91% of Democrats voice support. A majority of key swing voter groups also favor investing more in early childhood education from birth to age five.
Americans say our education priorities should be reversed, calling for more or equal investment in early education over college. 31% say we should invest more in early education when children are beginning school and creating the foundation for their education experience. 51% say we should invest equal amounts in early education and higher education. Only 14% say we should invest more in college education.
Voters see a critical lack of quality, affordable early childhood education. In fact, 45% say there are only few or some local programs available to lower- and middle-income families that are high-quality and affordable.
More than two-thirds of voters say that children do not start kindergarten with the knowledge and skills needed to do their best. 68% say half or fewer of all children are prepared for kindergarten while 29% of the electorate believes most or all children start kindergarten ready to do their best.
Early childhood education is a nonpartisan issue. Majorities of every partisan persuasion support investing in birth-to-age-five early childhood education.
Methodology: Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D) conducted a telephone survey of N=800 voters throughout the country on both landline and cell phones. The survey was conducted May 19-23, 2016 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.46%. The sample was distributed proportionally throughout the nation and is demographically representative of the electorate.
Quality early childhood education is essential for children and families.