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Polls Show Early Education Popular in Battleground States

A majority of voters in five battleground states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina—support expanding early-learning programs such as preschool and home-visiting programs, according to polls results released Oct. 20 that were conducted with the backing of early-education advocacy groups. 

The polls in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina were conducted between May and September for the First Five Years Fund, an advocacy organization with offices in Washington and Chicago. The Georgia survey was conducted in August on behalf of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, based in Atlanta. 

Overall, voters supported the idea of increased investment in early education, though Republicans generally showed less support in the various states than Democrats. (This mirrors national survey data in a poll conducted by Gallup in September.)

Some highlights from the results:

  • Georgia voters were asked if they would support using a portion of lottery funds to provide voluntary pre-K programs for 4-year olds. Eighty-seven percent were supportive. compared to 83 percent who responded to a similar questions four years ago. (The Georgia poll did not break down respondents by political party.) 
  • Sixty-five percent of North Carolina voters said that we should "we doing more to ensure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need." By party, that breaks down to 51 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats.
  • In Ohio, about 70 percent of voters support using a portion of the state budget surplus to provide more early-childhood education.
  • Seventy-five percent of Florida voters support a proposal that would increase federal investment to help states provide more access to high-quality early-childhood programs for low- and moderate-income families. That figure includes 64 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Independents and 85 percent of Democrats polled.
  • In Colorado, 73 percent of voters polled—55 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 86 percent of Republicans—support expanding voluntary early-learning classes throughout the state.

Kris Perry, the executive director of the First Five Years fund, said that the polls offered an opportunity to gauge the baseline support for early-childhood education in those states. The next step is putting early-childhood education on the radar screen of the various candidates. The issue has not been at the forefront in those states, she said. 

"We're trying to use these poll results that show public support across the board to build public demand. They're not the same thing," she said. "We want to tell candidates  there's really only an upside to supporting these investments."


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