BUILDing Strong Foundations

Iowa Voter Survey Sends Message to Presidential Candidates: Speak Out on Child Policy

7/29/2015 12:00:00 AM
Posted by: Meghan

Charlie Bruner, PhD
Research and Evaluation Partner, BUILD Initiative 
Executive Director, Child and Family Policy Center

The Child and Family Policy Center (CFPC) and Every Child Matters (ECM) just released poll results showing how Iowa voters rank issues by importance for the next presidential candidate to address – and how they view children and their needs. As CFPC and ECM engage in efforts to elevate children’s issues as candidates crisscross Iowa, we are thrilled that the poll results clearly demonstrate that voters favor presidential candidates who place a high emphasis on children and young children’s issues.

What Issues are Most Important to Voters?

As can be seen in the chart below, Iowa voters rated “improving the health, safety, and well-being of children” above ten other issues as one of their top one or two priorities – even ahead of “creating jobs and improving the economy.”


Which one or two of the following issues do you see as the TOP priority (or two) for the next president to address?

Source: Poll of 501 Iowa voters conducted by Selzer & Company on July 1-7, 2015, for the Child and Family Policy Center and the Every Child Matters Education Fund.

Voters also expressed skepticism about the future. Many (65 percent) did not believe that this generation’s children would be better off than their parent’s generation and they saw multiple major threats – including poverty (64 percent), lack of role models (65 percent) lack of parental engagement (71 percent), the costs of higher education (66 percent), unsafe neighborhoods (54 percent), and inadequate K-12 education (46 percent). Racial discrimination (41 percent) and lack of access to quality early childhood and preschool programs (34 percent) were perceived more as minor than major threats, but still were considered major threats by at least of third of voters.

Large majorities of voters expressed that they would view more favorably candidates who address child abuse prevention (77 percent) and reduction of child poverty (73 percent) than candidates who do not address these issues. Also garnering a large plurality of responses were: providing child care assistance for working families (67 percent), expanding child health coverage (63 percent), and providing universal access to preschool (60). A very small percentage of respondents said they would not be favorably impressed by candidates who did not raise these issues.

What Should Child Policy and Early Childhood Advocates Do?

The message from the survey is resounding: candidates have much to gain from focusing on child policy and their strategies to meet children’s needs. CFPC and ECM, with a 40-member Children’s Policy Coalition, now are calling on all candidates to articulate their policy agendas for children. We also call on child policy and early childhood advocates to share this information in order to draw attention to the voters’ desire for candidates and lawmakers to focus upon child policy.

Please visit for CFPC’s and ECM’s topline findings, a set of slides summarizing some key poll results, the survey itself, and a set of cross-tabulations.

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