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Black Women See Education, Iraq as Key Election Issues

A new survey says Black women are more likely to consider education as a key election issue, with 98 percent saying it is either extremely or very important. Low-income women are likelier than higher income women to cite education as highly important.

The survey was conducted by the National Council for Research on Women and shows a majority of both women and men want to increase student aid for college. By a margin of more than five to one overall — and six to one for women — they would vote for a candidate who favored increased student aid over a candidate who opposed it.

Black and Hispanic women are united in their opposition to the Iraq War, according to the survey. Among Black women voters, 83 percent said they would vote for candidates who favor withdrawal from Iraq, and only 9 percent would vote to stay the course, a margin of nine to one. Among Hispanic women voters, the margin is six to one.

Dr. Linda Basch, president of NCRW, says the anti-war sentiment doesn’t just apply to voters in blue, or heavily Democratic, states.

“This is across the board, in every section of the country, in cities and rural areas, across racial divides,” she says. “American women say they’re ready to vote for get-out-of-Iraq candidates against stay-in-Iraq candidates, with a three to one preference for candidates who want to get the troops out of Iraq over those who want to keep the troops there.” Basch says. “Candidates in every region will do better by calling for bringing the troops home than by advocating for staying the course. In the South — among all voters, women and men — it’s a two-to-one margin for the peace candidates. Even in the West, the margin is 51 to 30. In the Northeast, the margin is three to one for bringing the troops home.”

According to the survey results, Iraq is the most important voting issue, with more than one out of five respondents naming it first or second on an open-ended question. The economy, health care and education were the only other issues cited by more than one in 10 people. Married women with kids, the so-called “security moms,” are nearly three times likelier than any other group to cite education as their top priority.

“Women are shifting away from fear to hope as they view the issues. Education is clearly a more important issue than terrorism for moms in this poll,” Basch says. “They want politicians to focus on education and the economy rather than on orange alerts.”

— By Shilpa Banerji

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