- July 29 - In a report released today, a bipartisan group of leading political
strategists said new polling data reveal a surprising depth of nationwide concern
about hunger both at home and around the world, but that candidates and hunger
advocates have failed to formulate a convincing message. The new polling finds
an astonishing 92.7% of likely voters said "fighting the hunger problem" was important
to them. The issue tested almost as important as "declining moral values" to voters.
"Untapped Issue is Available to Both Parties for 2002"
The key findings show voters urgently want hunger discussed, will reward candidates
who make the issue a priority, and want new aid programs to be coupled with an
optimistic message of reform and future independence for aid recipients.
Powerful Issue for Both Parties
- Since September 11th, 70% of voters say they have become more interested in
helping reduce hunger.
- 56% of voters feel the US government spends too little money on the problem
of hunger at home.
- More than 22% of voters said they personally are "worried that they or someone
in their family could go hungry and not have enough to eat in the future."
- President Bush and Democrats in Congress are almost evenly matched in voters'
minds as best able to fight the hunger problem in the United States and abroad.
Approximately 30% of voters preferred Bush and congressional Republicans on the
issue, 32% thought Democrats in Congress are best able to fight hunger.
- Voters were more likely to vote for a candidate who said fighting hunger is
a priority against a candidate who said enough is currently being done, by a margin
of 69% to 19%.
- Voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates who proposed cuts to school lunch
and food stamp programs.
- Voters want aid recipients to get help and become independent. Voters want
aid to help starving children overseas, but the most popular solutions for hunger
abroad coupled that approach with helping farmers produce more food. The most
popular solution at home was food aid plus helping hungry people help themselves.
- A message that combines program reform with aid wins out over status quo messages
of more or less aid. Including measures of personal accountability with aid received
the support of 81% of voters.
The poll results are the first known study of hunger as a political issue and
were conducted by three respected political consultants who worked against each
other in the 1996 presidential campaign. The report was prepared by Jim McLaughlin,
a pollster for presidential candidate Bob Dole and currently pollster for the
National Republican Campaign Committee; Bill Knapp, consultant in both the Clinton
1996 and Gore 2000 presidential campaigns; and Tom Freedman, former Senior Advisor
to President Clinton.
In commenting on the report, Mr. McLaughlin said the issue "clearly is a great
opportunity for Republicans to do something about an issue voters care about and
dispel biases against a party that is unfairly portrayed as hard-hearted.'
Mr. Knapp said the data "revealed a politically compelling way for the Democratic
Party to get back to its roots by putting the needs of the hungry people at the
center of its agenda."
Mr. Freedman said "The data was a surprise to us all. Voters care more about
this than we expected, and they have ideas on how to fix it. Hunger is clearly
an untapped issue available to both parties for 2002."
The poll was commissioned by the Alliance to End Hunger, which includes religious
bodies, businesses, universities, civil rights groups and labor unions and others.
The mission of the Alliance is to engage diverse institutions more deeply in an
effort to win the shifts in U.S. public opinion, institutions and policy that
could dramatically reduce hunger in the United States and internationally.
For more information on the Alliance to End Hunger or the bipartisan poll,