A poll released Monday by the Gallup polling organization found that 7 in 10 respondents were in favor of using more federal money to ensure that high-quality preschool was available for every child in the country. Twenty-eight percent were opposed to the idea. Three percent had no opinion.
But the support for federally funded preschool broke down around party lines. Fifty-three percent of Republicans favored an expanded federal investment, compared with 87 percent of Democrats. Similarly, when respondents were asked about the importance of different education levels, 50 percent of Democrats said preschool is “extremely important,” compared to 34 percent of Republicans and independents.
Overall, 73 percent of respondents said that preschool education was “extremely important or very important” to a person’s future success. Though that was a clear majority, it was also far less than the percentage of respondents who believe that an elementary or high school education was important to future success—more than 90 percent of respondents agreed with that assertion. About 77 percent of respondents said that college was extremely or very important for success.
The poll analysis concludes:
The public seems to agree with [President Barack] Obama's push for expanding preschool education in more areas of the country. But as with any proposal, it may fall behind other government priorities. Also, the political calculus is important. Although a slim majority of Republicans favor expanded federal funds for pre-K education, their level of support is much less than that of Democrats. And with Republicans currently holding the majority in the House, it is unclear how motivated they would be to take action on the issue as opposed to other issues for which rank-and-file Republicans show far greater support.
The poll was conducted by phone between Aug. 25 and 26, and has a 4 percentage point margin of error.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.