What are the five most important issues for families, according to our survey? Health care, education, child-care costs, the economy and good jobs, and maternity and paternity leave. The candidates might be surprised that immigration and tax reform fell at the bottom of your priority list. In fact, 76 percent of you of you said the candidates aren't talking (or aren't talking enough) about the issues you care about. And only 16 percent of you think the candidates understand the day-to-day realities facing families like yours.
Moms on Health Care
As Sarah Wilson, of New Braunfels, Texas, told us, "The current health-care system is so out of whack. I appreciate what Obama attempted to do, but we are forcing people to buy insurance they can't afford and penalizing them when they can't afford it." Unfortunately, 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 64 who have health insurance still had trouble paying their medical bills in 2015, often because of high deductibles, co-pays, or out of pocket expenses, according a survey by Kaiser Family Foundation and The New York Times. "I think Obamacare is a disaster and it needs a lot of reform. If they can't get rid of it, then they need to fix it," says Lauren Bowman, of North Port, Florida. "All of the promises that Obama made aren't true—it isn't affordable, you can't keep your own doctor, and most people are unable to stay within their current network."
Moms on Education
Improving schools is obviously a complex challenge. "I thought my 4-year-old would automatically get into preschool, but she didn't because there weren't enough spots," says Kathryn Hudson, of Baltimore. "We live in the best school district in Baltimore, and I still can't get my daughter into preschool." Sadly, 80 percent of Americans think that our public schools don't provide an excellent or very good education, according to The Harris Poll. "Teachers work so hard. States require so much of them, and they don't get rewarded—their salaries get cut. We need to do more for them," Sylvana Turnquist, of Largo, Florida, told us.
Who's the smartest kid in the class of candidates? Twenty-six percent of you thought that Dr. Ben Carson would score the highest on a Common Core test, and 25 percent of you thought the top score would go to Hillary Clinton. Fourteen percent of you thought Bernie Sanders would do the best, 6 percent thought that Donald Trump would, and 4 percent picked Ted Cruz.
Moms on Child Care
While Federal guidelines define "affordable child care" as costing no more than 10 percent of a family's income, that's currently the case in only 13 states, according to Child Care Aware of America. As a result, parents are forced to make tough choices. "The price is so high, and it's difficult to find someone you trust. I had to make the decision to leave my job as a nurse and stay home because my wages would equal the cost for day care," says Lakeisha White, of Spencerport, New York. Indeed, 62 percent of parents of babies and preschoolers say it's hard to find high-quality, affordable child care in their community, found a survey by Pew Research Center. AsBonnie Lafazan, of Springfield, New Jersey, told us, "I used to be a lawyer and have become an academic librarian and an information-literacy instructor because I thought I'd have a better work-life balance. I chose to work but day care is half my salary."
Would moms let one of the candidates babysit their children? Forty-six percent of those we surveyed say they would hire Hillary Clinton, 33 percent say they'd hire Bernie Sanders, and eight percent say they'd feel comfortable hiring either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
Moms on The Economy and Good Jobs
It's a tough job market, and parents voice lots of frustrations. "Candidates talk about helping uneducated people get better jobs, when the people with degrees have a hard time getting better pay," says Jessica Bianchi, of Norfolk, Virginia. "I was working toward my master's degree, but I stopped. They're not going to pay me more, so what's the point? Employers want to get someone who can handle the workload for less." Only 45 percent of Americans have what Gallup considers to be a good job—defined as working 30+ hours a week for an employer who provides a regular paycheck. "Women and men need to be paid equally," adds Sarah Lavery, of Brooklyn, New York. "That's a serious issue, and it's not happening. And the disparity between the people who are making all the profits and the people doing all the work is ridiculous."
Moms on Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave
"Because I had accrued some personal time, I was able to take ten weeks and then went back part-time to ease into it, but most people get less," says Dawn Cook, of Thomasville, Georgia. "That's not enough time—especially when you know that in other countries, people get as much as six months with their baby." Our survey found that only 40 percent of you thought that having a mom in the White House would mean better laws and policies for moms, while 16 percent say having a dad in office would improve laws and policies for moms.