Poll: Majorities of Democrats, independents say US spends 'too little' on education, health care

Majorities of Democratic and independent voters say in new Hill/HarrisX poll that the U.S. government spends too little on education and health care.

Seventy-two percent of Democratic voters say not enough is spent on education, while 71 percent say the same of health care. 

Education and health care are also the top two areas in which independent voters said the country spends too little, at 58 and 56 percent, respectively. 

While Republican voters are more split over government spending, they are more likely to point to education and law enforcement as lacking in funding. 

Sentiments of voters overall mirrored those of Democrats and independents, with 58 percent of registered voters saying the U.S. spends too little on education and 56 percent saying the same of health care.

The new poll also found a significant gender divide on spending in education and health care.

Women are about 25 percentage points more likely than men to say the U.S. spends too little on education and health care each, with 68 percent of women saying the government should spend more on health care compared to 44 percent of men, and 70 percent of women saying the same of education, compared to 45 percent of men.

“Although Americans are generally wary of unrestrained government spending, a solid majority of the public say they want more public funding of health care and education. Health care in particular is a perennial voting issue for many Americans particularly seniors. Nearly two-thirds of seniors support more health care spending," Dan Cox, research fellow in polling and public opinion at American Enterprise Institute, told The Hill.

"With the economy humming along, social spending may be key campaign issue and one that is likely to advantage the Democrats. The robust support for increased social spending may make this an ideal time to run a socialist candidate,” he added.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Sanders still sees 'narrow path' to Democratic presidential nomination Tenants call on lawmakers to pass rent freezes MORE (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate who self-identifies as a democratic socialist, is gaining momentum in the 2020 race, having just won the Nevada caucuses over the weekend by a large margin.

His victory has the Democratic establishment concerned that his progressive, big-ticket proposals will turn off moderate voters, making it hard for him to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE in a general election.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 1,001 registered voters between Feb. 14 and 15. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.  

—Gabriela Schulte