First, federal aid to families makes a difference — and recipients know it does. The survey reports: “Single parents with children remain the group most likely to experience a serious economic crisis, but at the same time, 2020 and 2021 saw a marked decrease in the number of families who reported such a serious crisis.”
Why? Government was there with “massive federal aid distributed under both the Trump and Biden administrations.” A wide array of Americans “including three-quarters of low-income American families told [the pollsters] they needed the aid to get by and that it helped them.” Put differently, the support from the American Rescue Plan, which passed exclusively with Democratic votes, made a difference. Maybe Democrats should remind people who lent a hand and who fought that aid tooth and nail.
Second, women bore the brunt of child care during the crisis:
Women also expressed more concern than men about how being a working parent affects both their ability to parent well and their ability to advance their careers. The gap between those who said being a working parent makes those activities harder and those who reported that it makes things easier was much larger among women than men. While both men and women who work full time were more likely to say that it complicates their parenting and work life, mothers who work full-time feel disproportionately the burdens of working parenthood.
Finally, the survey shows overwhelming support among Democrats (61 percent) for “helping families directly and spending money on programs and institutions,” and even 43 percent of Republicans agree. “The most popular form of benefit is cash assistance, and Americans favor an average benefit of around $2,400 per year.” That suggests adding up the cash benefits under Biden’s proposals would be beneficial so that voters understand what they are receiving. Moreover, a strong plurality (48 percent) want the wealthy to pay for these benefits, as Biden’s plan proposes.
Other polls confirm that the elements in Biden’s plan are extremely popular. A CBS News-YouGov poll shows that 88 percent of Americans favor federal funding to lower drug prices (Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, call your office!); 84 percent favor extending Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing; 73 percent favor paid family leave; and 67 percent favor universal pre-K. Responding to the question about who should pay for it, 68 percent say wealthy people and 67 percent say corporations.
The administration should take away several key findings from these and other polls. First, stress the aspects of the plan that respond to felt need from parents and other caregivers, especially women. In the long list of items in the bill, these may impact voters the most. Second, whether Medicare expansion is the wisest use of funds is debatable, but it is politically popular. Biden should remind voters again and again that this is part of the plan. Third, emphasize that Republicans oppose all help to families in his proposal and object to corporations and rich people paying for the plan.
Democrats have devised a pro-family, politically popular basket of social programs despite uniform Republican obstruction. Which party cares about average Americans? Which believes in helping families? If Democrats do not toot their own horn, no one else will.