The College Board commissioned a poll that shows a majority favor increased federal spending on education. Nevertheless, the poll also found, to the surprise of both the pollsters and the College Board, that “57% feel that the federal government already is too involved in education and should leave it up to states and localities to deal with, while only 37% think the federal government should be doing more.”
Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research conducted the study for the College Board. “The groups most critical of the federal government for being too involved include Republicans (79%), seniors (67%), and whites (64%),” the Hart researchers explain. “Those most supportive of the federal government doing more to improve education include African Americans (75%), Democrats (58%), Hispanics (52%), and 18- to 34-year-olds (51%).
“Notably, even voters who say education will be extremely important in the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections are divided about the federal government’s role: 47% think it should be doing more and 47% think it already is doing too much.”
What the Hart researchers don’t show is that 25 percent of blacks, 42 percent of Democrats, 48 percent of Hispanics and an astonishing 49 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are left out of this equation. If those proportions are adopting a skeptical view of federal education policy, that would be a stunning reversal of not only other polls but recent elections.
Moreover, the poll may have oversampled Democrats. For one thing, registered independents barely appear in the 19-page report.
“The survey was conducted from March 15 to 20, 2012, and included interviews among 1,839 registered voters across nine key swing states—three in the Southeast, three in Industrial states, and three in the Southwest,” the Hart research team states. “Representative samples of approximately 200 interviews were conducted among registered voters in each of the nine states (exact sample sizes are indicated in the table below).”
“For reporting purposes, each state was weighted to reflect its proportion of the electorate across these nine swing states.” Thus Ohio and Pennsylvania were more heavily weighted than North Carolina and Virginia.
Against this backdrop, the Hart pollsters found that: “67% say education will be extremely important to them personally in this year’s elections for president and Congress. Education ranks behind jobs and the economy (82% extremely important) and is on par with government spending (69%), health care (67%), and the federal budget deficit (64%).
“Those most likely to be ‘education voters’ in the 2012 elections are African-Americans (91%), Hispanics (81%), Democrats (79%), and women (75%), especially 18- to 49-year-old women (77%).
“Regardless of party, majorities of voters say that education will be extremely important to them, but Democrats (79%) indicate that education will be of greater importance to them than do independents (63%) and Republicans (53%). The gender gap on education as a priority holds across party lines, with women placing a greater priority than men on education no matter their party affiliation. For example, 65% of Republican women and 70% of independent women say education will be extremely important to them in the upcoming federal elections, while only 43% of Republican men and 57% of independent men say the same.”
The College Board is headed by Gaston Caperton, a former Democratic governor of West Virginia who says he will step down from his position with the board in June 2012.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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