Given that it costs more to live in some places like New York City than in other parts of the country, 77% of voters believe that the official poverty line be adjusted for the cost of living in each particular community. A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that just 10% disagree and 13% are not sure (see question wording and crosstab results).
Unfortunately, the government poverty statistics do not make such distinctions.
In my latest book, The Sun Is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not, I note that this is not just a theoretical or abstract concern. Using official statistics, “a family of four in rural Mississippi earning $24,000 a year would be defined as living in poverty. But a family of four living in New York City that earns $25,000 a year would not. In reality, of course, $24,000 in Mississippi goes a lot farther than $25,000 in Manhattan…. Despite what the official figures show, the urban New York family is far more likely to be in poverty than the rural Mississippi family.”
This distortion created by the official data has significant real world impacts. “The government figures consistently overestimate the reality of poverty in rural southern states and underestimate poverty in urban areas throughout the rest of the nation.” This and other flaws in the data “have hidden the reality of poverty in America.”
The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted November 7-8, 2018 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the demographic profile of our sample). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.
Data released earlier showed that 84% of voters consider poverty in America to be a serious problem. However, there is much skepticism about the effectiveness of government programs to address the issue.
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