NEW POLL: Southern Voters Support Robust Investments in Build Back Better Act

October 28, 2021 Groundwork Collaborative

Stacey Abrams: “Depending on how officials choose to use and learn from these poll results, it will be clear what their priorities are”

Washington, DC – With the release of the Build Back Better framework today, new polling across 12 states in the American South shows broad support for historic investments in Medicaid expansion, climate resilience, and families. Groundwork Collaborative and the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) unveiled the poll results during a Pandemic for Prosperity webinar on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET. 

“Data is essential not just for securing a long-term recovery but also for planning ahead for new obstacles. The more we understand our communities’ progress and challenges, the more effectively we can develop and implement equitable policies,” stated Stacey Abrams, SEAP’s founder and executive director. “Findings from the poll provide a critical view of what Southerners list as top concerns and priorities. Depending on how officials choose to use and learn from these poll results, it will be clear what their priorities are. The South emanates resiliency and we need officials to take the actions now on health, climate, and recovery that will make the region even more resilient to the threats we face.”

In September 2021, Data for Progress surveyed 2,222 registered voters in the Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia around a number of progressive policies. Among the standout findings of the poll: 

  • Majorities of Southern voters support Medicaid expansion and investing federal aid on pandemic relief and community service programs. 
  • Majorities of Southern voters are concerned about climate change and find that extreme weather events have become more common over the last five years.
  • COVID-19 has negatively affected wages, hours, and debt burden for one-fifth of voters in the South, especially communities of color. 
  • Southern voters who received stimulus payments from the federal government have been positively impacted by the relief funds. 

“Voters across the South agree: it’s time for smart, large-scale investments in climate, health care, and families,” said Rakeen Mabud, chief economist and managing director of research and policy at Groundwork. “After decades of failed economic thinking, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to invest in these hard-hit communities and start building a just and equitable economy. 

The poll data builds on new research released by Groundwork Collaborative and Insight Center, which shows how government disinvestment and COVID-19 have devastated Black and Latinx communities across the rural South. Lifting up Mississippi as a case study, the report examines deliberate policy decisions that have dismantled public infrastructure in rural America and severely curtailed Black and brown people’s ability to meet their basic needs, build wealth, and care for their loved ones. 

You can read the report, “The Rural South: Where Austerity Thrives and Black and Latinx Americans Perish” HERE.\

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About Groundwork Collaborative: The Groundwork Collaborative’s mission is to advance an economic vision for strong, broadly shared prosperity and true opportunity for all. Learn more at https://groundworkcollaborative.org/ and follow us on Twitter @Groundwork

About SEAP: The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is your partner and resource. SEAP amplifies existing organizations and networks’ efforts to broaden economic power and build a more equitable future. Broadening economic power brings attention to how race, class, and gender intersect social and economic policy in the South. SEAP explores policy ideas designed to address these connections directly. SEAP focuses on 12 Southern states and marginalized/vulnerable populations within the region. Learn more at theseap.org.