Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Public Is Ready for That Big Government Thing!

New polling from the Center for American Progress, guided by my colleague John Halpin, tells the story. From the Post story on the poll:
"A majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans — yes, Republicans! — say they want to increase spending by $1 trillion: on infrastructure such as bridges and roads; on a permanent policy of paid guaranteed sick leave for all workers; on paid family and medical leave for workers with a newborn child or who need to deal with an illness.
And when it comes to children, a majority of Americans support both an expansion of tax credits for families with young children and an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Both of these are in the current aid package, but they sunset after a year.)
“People by and large, across partisan and most demographic lines, strongly support at least an essential role for the federal government in making sure people have access to basic housing, education, health care and food,” [said] John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
There is also an excellent report on the poll, from which I'd highlight the following important findings:
* A poverty framing of the pandemic’s impact drives a greater desire among voters for major changes, compared with a racial and ethnic framing.
The study employed a split-sample experiment to assess this same presentation of CDC data about disproportionate impacts through the lens of race and ethnicity. While half the sample described above received a question about the disproportionate impacts of the coronavirus on “those living in poverty,” the other half received a question about the disproportionate impacts on “Black Americans and Hispanics.”
In the racial framing sample, less than half of all voters—46 percent—say that Black Americans and Hispanics have been more affected than white Americans by the coronavirus, while 39 percent say that the impact has been the same across communities. When using the poverty framing of the pandemic, however, the margin is 55 percent to 29 percent.
Roughly the same percentage of Democrats report seeing disproportionate impacts for both those living in poverty and Black Americans and Hispanics, but independent and Republican ratings drop off significantly in the race and ethnicity framing sample. Forty-four percent of independents say that Black Americans and Hispanics have been more affected than whites by the pandemic, but only 28 percent of Republicans think similarly—far below their ratings using the poverty framing.
In turn, the choice of framing clearly affects voters’ desire for big changes versus a return to the status quo. Forty-six percent of voters overall in the poverty framing sample say that “we should make big changes that address historical economic inequities in health care, education, and the economy” after the pandemic passes, while 43 percent say that the federal government should “take steps to restore our health care, education, and economic systems to the way they were” before the pandemic. In contrast, among those voters who received the racial framing, the margin is 39 percent to 49 percent in favor of restoring things to pre-pandemic norms rather than making bigger changes.
Again, Democrats react essentially the same to either formulation, but independent voters in particular express far more willingness to make big changes when impacts are given a poverty lens rather than a racial one. Republicans are more in favor of the status quo in either formulation, but twice as many Republicans favor big changes when given a poverty lens.

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