After years of investment and first-hand experience with Smart Start, an early childhood development program from birth-to-three, and NC Pre-K, a preschool program for 4-year-olds, North Carolina voters know that early childhood education pays off. Big time. And, North Carolinians want more.

FFYF recently partnered with NC Early Childhood Foundation to commission a statewide poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, the same bipartisan team that fielded our national poll earlier this summer. We wanted to show that national support for early childhood education is indicative of support in states throughout the country.

North Carolina has long believed in the transformative  power of quality education. The poll results show that voters believe education starts at birth and see investment in high quality early childhood education as benefiting North Carolina’s economy. Support is off the charts for more and better investments.

Here are some highlights:

  • Making sure children get a strong start in life is considered extremely important by more voters than any other state priority—including jobs.
  • 70 percent of North Carolina voters support more federal investment to help states provide more access to high-quality early childhood programs for low- and moderate-income families. This includes 51 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Independents and 88 percent of Democrats.
  • North Carolina voters are equally supportive of investing in Smart Start and NC Pre-K. In fact, the support is overwhelming at 75 percent.
  • More investment in voluntary home visiting and parent education programs has strong bipartisan support. 70 percent support these programs, including strong majorities of Republicans and Independents.
  • Voters strongly support quality that produces quality outcomes in school. 88 percent of voters want more investments in teacher training and classroom resources for early childhood and early elementary school teachers.

As the New York Times recently pointed out in an article on the U.S. Senate race between Kay Hagen and Thom Tillis, education is now the number-one issue in North Carolina. Candidates and elected officials would do well to understand that support for early childhood is the foundation of a winning education platform. 55 percent say that if a candidate in North Carolina supported investments in early childhood education they would be more likely to vote for him or her. In fact, 32 percent say they would be much more likely, with only 9 percent saying they would be less likely.

Our new North Carolina poll with NC Early Childhood Foundation is yet one more proof point in a what is becoming a solid state and national narrative: Americans value quality early childhood education, they want more children to have it and they want their elected officials to act now.

The people have spoken. Candidates for office who want to celebrate on November 7th would be wise to listen—and to make early childhood education their number-one priority on November 8th.