While voter motivations behind the outcomes of the 2022 midterm elections will be hotly debated over the coming weeks and months, two national polls commissioned by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) and conducted by the bipartisan polling team of Hart Research and New Bridge Strategy immediately following the 2022 midterm elections have found that voters and small business owners across the political spectrum overwhelmingly endorse the federal government taking action on child care.
What’s more, the poll underscores broad, bipartisan agreement that the national shortage of affordable child care programs is doing significant harm to families’ finances, businesses’ bottom lines, and the U.S. economy broadly.
The two bipartisan national polls surveyed: registered voters including an oversampling of suburban women voters, and small business owners across the U.S.
Voters and small business owners overwhelmingly support the federal government taking action on child care. In fact, the two groups are in lockstep on this point: 74% of both voters and small business owners say that federal funding for child care and early learning programs should be increased.
- Amongst voters surveyed, this sentiment was shared across party lines—88% of Democrats, 70% of swing voters, and 61% of Republicans agree.
- Similarly, amongst small business owners, 82% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 68% of Republicans agree.
And more than 80% of voters and business owners support a proposal which expands funding to states to increase child care options.
- Support for this proposal is extremely high across the electorate—97% of Democrats, 87% of independents, and 72% of Republicans (including 63% of self-described very conservative Republicans).
- Similarly, support for this proposal is extremely high amongst small business owners, including 94% of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans.
- Two key voting groups are also strongly on board, with 87% of suburban women, and fully 94% of voters under age 35 supporting the proposal.
- Notably, 84% of voters say it would be acceptable for a proposal like this to increase the federal deficit in the short run if it paid for itself in the long run, including 84% of swing voters and 70% of Republicans.
Voters and small business owners agree access to child care is central to strengthening the U.S. economy and supporting workers.
- 70% of voters say access to high-quality, affordable child care is “essential” or “very important” to our ability to strengthen the economy and help workers, including 74% of suburban women.
- 71% of small business leaders think that access to high-quality, affordable child care is essential or important to strengthening the economy and helping workers, including 68% of Republicans.
- One in five voters has had to cut back on work hours, cut back on other household essentials, turn down a job opportunity, or leave the workforce entirely due to child care issues.
Business owners across the political spectrum agree that the national shortage of affordable child care programs is doing significant harm to families’ finances, businesses’ bottom lines, and the U.S. economy broadly.
- 88% of business leaders agree that employees who have young children will be more likely to remain in the workforce if they have access to affordable, high-quality child care.
- 78% of business leaders agree that their business would be on stronger footing if employees had better access to affordable, high-quality child care.
- 89% of business leaders agree that employees who have young children will be better able to do their jobs if they have access to affordable, high-quality child care.
Voters are dismayed Congress has not acted, and there is broad desire for President Biden and Congress to work together to expand affordable child care options.
- When told that Congress considered legislation earlier this year that would have increased child care funding and would have made it more widely available and affordable, 65% of voters say they are disappointed (45%) or even angry (20%) that Congress failed to act. Suburban women are even more dismayed—71% describe themselves as angry or disappointed.
- And partisan polarization does not stop voters from wanting Congress and the administration to work together on this issue. Fully 81% of voters say their member of Congress should work with the Biden administration to enact policies that expand affordable child care options; this includes 69% who feel strongly that this is the case.
65% of Republicans say their member of Congress should work with the Biden administration on this.
One in three small businesses report multiple child care-rooted workforce problems in the past 12 months.
- 38% of small business owners said reliability of workers – such as showing up for shifts and being on time – has been made more challenging.
- 37% of small business owners said recruitment and retention of qualified workers has been made more challenging.
- 35% of small business owners said keeping workers focused and engaged has been made more challenging.
- 30% of small business owners said expanding and growing their businesses has been made more challenging.
86% of voters agree that improving the quality of child care and early learning programs and making them more affordable for families are a good investment of taxpayers’ money, including 76% of Republicans, 86% of Swing Voters, and 87% of suburban women.
Voters and small business owners agree that the child care status quo does not work. 83% of voters and small business owners say that half or fewer of the child care programs in their area are both affordable and high quality. Tellingly, there is no real difference on this assessment among voters who live in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Moreover, a majority of voters and business owners say child care availability has gotten worse over the past two years.
Given these myriad and widespread problems, it follows that voters overwhelmingly support the federal government increasing funding to fix the child care crisis:
- 88% of voters believe it’s important that Congress help attract and retain more qualified child care workers by increasing funding to enable child care programs to provide better pay and benefits.
- 85% of voters believe it’s important that Congress increase the child care options available to parents by increasing funding to child care programs so that more of them can open or expand.
- 83% of voters believe it’s important that Congress create more options for parents by allowing programs of all types–including those in schools, child care centers, homes, and religious institutions–to access federal funding.
- 1,006 registered voters, including an oversample of suburban women
- Interviews conducted November 9-13, 2022
Small Business Survey:
- 309 owners of small businesses, defined as those with between three and 499 employees
- Audience is 63% male and +10 Republican in partisanship