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JULY 29, 2002
12:04 PM
CONTACT:  Bread for the World
(202) 639-9400 Bob Adams ext. 227 Scott Rowson ext. 208 Shawnda Eibl ext. 264
New Bipartisan Poll Reveals the Politics of Hunger: Voters Care Deeply About Hunger But Reject Current Political Approaches
WASHINGTON - 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.

Important Concern:

  • 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."
Powerful Issue for Both Parties

  • 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.

New Message

  • 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, click here.


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