Survey: McCain, Obama Supporters Differ Greatly on Poverty

One of the world's largest child development organizations found supporters of presidential candidates Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama have "very different priorities" when it comes to ending global poverty and fighting the war on terror.

The survey commissioned by Compassion International and conducted by Barna Research Group found that 80 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as strong McCain supporters believe fighting the war on terror should be a higher priority for the next president than to end extreme poverty.

Only about a tenth of the Arizona senator's strongest backers prioritized the fight against global poverty over the fight against terror.

In contrast, only 30 percent of Obama's strongest supporters place a greater emphasis on fighting terrorism than on ending global poverty, while 45 percent of this group placed ending global poverty above efforts to stop terror.

Among undecided voters, 40 percent of this group placed fighting terror over ending global poverty.

But Compassion's senior vice president, Mark Hanlon, cautioned against concluding that Americans in general, as well as supporters of either presidential candidates, do not care about global poverty.

"The contrast between Obama and McCain supporters likely reflects a fundamental difference of understanding about the role of government in solving global poverty," said Hanlon. "At Compassion, we are working with some 526,000 Americans, both individuals and families, every day to end global poverty – one child at a time."

Compassion work with more than 65 denominations and 4,729 indigenous church partners to serve more than 1 million children in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

The Christian ministry tackles global poverty among children by meeting physical, social, economic and spiritual needs. Its programs range from prenatal care to infant survival efforts to individual child sponsorship to assistance with college education and job placement.

In recent years, an increasing number of churches and ministries have added fighting global poverty to their organization's mission.

Just a few weeks ago, prominent American evangelical leaders called on the U.S. government, the presidential candidates, the United Nations, and the Church to adopt a bolder plan to combat global poverty.

Leaders calling for a stronger commitment to ending poverty in the world included the Rev. Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Orlando, Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Association, the Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe of World Evangelical Alliance.

The push to increase efforts to end global poverty comes as some 854 million people worldwide are going hungry and another 100 million people are at risk of starvation because of soaring food prices.