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Hunger in the Polls
Eighty percent of midterm election voters polled said that the presidential candidates' positions on hunger and poverty will influence their vote. Three out of five of these voters agreed that political candidates in 2006 did not focus enough on hunger and poverty. While many aspects of politics today are very frustrating, polls like this give me hope.
Television programs and newspaper graphics depict our country as neatly divided into red and blue states. Many Democrats think that Republicans want to kill all social safety nets and leave the poor and hungry to fend for themselves. Many Republicans think that Democrats want to stifle business's freedoms and pour money into large, inefficient government programs. The country is pretty evenly split between the two major parties right now, but four out of five voters agree that hunger and poverty are important issues for our leaders to address. Maybe we agree more than we think.
One of the biggest arguements against expanding government programs that fight poverty is that we currently have an enormous deficit, currently estimated at over $8 trillion. Nearly three-quarters of voters, though, believe that we should increase our efforts to reduce hunger and poverty regardless of the increase in federal expenditure. In the coming years, we will have to make some difficult choices to make in our federal budget. The vast majority of voters believe that we should ensure that hunger and poverty are issues too important to ignore, however, even in times of deficit.
Do poll questions sometimes influence repondents' answers? Certainly. Will other issues also impact voters' decisions? Of course. Still, as the parties struggle to work together and voters increasingly believe that partisanship drives Washington, it is helpful to remember that there are some issues that almost everyone believes are important. Like in any healthy democracy, we will have many competing ideas about how to reduce hunger and poverty. Most of us agree, though, that we need to increase our discussion and efforts in these areas.
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