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Voters say, "Put the needs of Americans first"

New Poll: One in two American voters are living paycheck-to-paycheck

Washington, D.C., January 28, 2010 – A new poll by the Alliance to End Hunger shows that voters are hurting economically and they want Congress and the Administration to put the needs of Americans first. 

Tony Hall, director of the Alliance to End Hunger, former Member of Congress (D-OH) and Ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agencies, said today, “Voters are very anxious about how they are going to make ends meet and feed their families.  Congress should move swiftly to meet the needs of people who are hurting.”

One in two voters report that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and that is having a real impact at the kitchen table.  Forty-two percent of voters are buying less food or worrying about going hungry because of the recession. 

Households with children are especially vulnerable.  Fifty-nine percent of households with children under the age of 18 say they are living paycheck to paycheck and forty-six percent say the recession has impacted their ability to provide food for their families.

That need translates into a very clear message for politicians and political candidates in this election year – “Put the needs of Americans first.” 

There is strong and growing support across the political spectrum for programs that assist struggling families.  Almost half of all voters (48 percent) report that they are more supportive now of government programs that help poor and hungry people than they were when the recession began.

This is important news for Congress, who will reauthorize child nutrition programs – including, school breakfast and summer feeding programs – early this year.  They will also have the opportunity to expand and strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit which has lifted more than 5 million people above the poverty line. 

Voters want domestic issues to take priority.  When asked whether or not the U.S. should make long-term investments in Haiti to help rebuild the country, sixty-one percent of voters said we should focus more on helping our own citizens before making sizable financial commitments to Haiti. 

“Americans are as committed and generous as ever when it comes to providing emergency relief,” said Ambassador Hall, “but they are skittish about committing hundreds of millions of dollars to Haiti when so many Americans are struggling.  The Administration is wise to take a prudent approach to planning how we help Haiti rebuild over the long term.”


The Alliance to End Hunger poll was conducted by McLaughlin and Associates on January 20, 2010. A random national sample of 1,000 likely voters was done by phone with a +/- 3.1% margin of error at a 95% confidence interval.



Past Hunger Message Project Polls


Domestic Hunger

Key Findings


Global Hunger

Key Findings


An Electorate Ready for Action - 10 Key Findings on Hunger


July 2008

Pre-Election Poll

The Impact of the Recession on Hunger Messaging in America

Would you say you or your family live from paycheck to paycheck?

50%  YES

26%  Yes, definitely

24%  Yes, somewhat

46%  NO

Which of the following statements best describes how the recession has impacted your ability to provide food for you or your family?


13%  Very much.  I worry about me or someone I know going hungry.

29%  Somewhat.  I can buy less, but do not worry about me or someone I know going

           hungry or skipping meals.


Has the recession made you more or less supportive of government policies and programs designed to help hungry and poor people?


18% Much more supportive

29% Somewhat more supportive



In the upcoming mid-term elections, how important will a candidate's support for programs that help hungry and poor people be when deciding your vote for Congress?


32% Very important

47% Somewhat important


As you probably are aware, a massive earthquake recently hit Haiti. The leading U.S. General in Haiti estimates that the death toll could reach 200,000 people and the Red Cross estimates that 3 million people, which is one-third of the population, need help. President Obama announced an immediate United State investment of $100 million to provide aid to Haiti.

Which one of the following statements comes closest to your own personal view of the United States' responsibility in the wake of this natural disaster?

30% In addition to the United States' immediate investment of $100 million in the disaster relief effort, we must provide long-term development assistance that will enable Haitians to make sustainable progress against issues of poverty and hunger, even if the United States has to commit up to a half a billion dollars in aid.

61% The devastation from the earthquake is tragic and the United States is doing the right thing by providing immediate relief aid to Haiti, but considering the tough economic times we are facing here in the United States, we should focus more on helping our own citizens here in America before making long-term development aid commitments to Haiti that could cost us additional hundreds of millions of dollars.