Koch Group's Poll Cites Barriers to Achievement

Koch Group's Poll Cites Barriers to Achievement
Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File
Koch Group's Poll Cites Barriers to Achievement
Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File
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A new survey from a group founded by conservative mega donors Charles and David Koch shows Americans believe a growing number of barriers – some of which are government-imposed -- are preventing them reaching their full potential in life.

The poll was conducted by In Pursuit Of — the marketing wing of the Koch-backed Seminar Network — ahead of a biannual donor event this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo. The purpose of the survey was to measure how best the network could focus its outreach efforts. It is the first national poll released ahead of the group’s donor meeting.

Overall, 56 percent of respondents said there are more barriers today compared to previous generations. Another 66 percent said they agree barriers prevent people from improving their lives and that breaking them should be a “top priority.” Seventy percent agreed that government is responsible for creating the opportunity for upward mobility, but actually achieving success depends on each individual.

The Koch network focuses its outreach on four main areas: government, education, business and community. The group wanted to see if its priorities are still in line with what people are feeling. None of the survey questions were inherently political, and none asked about individual politicians or political parties. A spokesman for the Seminar Network said the survey confirmed that the group has the right priorities.

“Our Network is focused on removing the barriers that stand in the way of people helping themselves and helping each other,” said James Davis in a statement released with the survey results. “We’ve seen significant progress, but work remains if we are going to truly turn around the trajectory of this country toward one where people are able to improve their own lives and realize their full potential.”

According to the poll, Americans see infringements on their individual liberties as a major problem. Sixty-two percent of those polled said that government needs to focus on protecting individual rights, including “property rights, free speech, and equal treatment for everyone under the law.” Another 86 percent said that the right to “personal property” is fundamental to a free and just society.

Despite the imperfections of government, however, 51 percent said that it is best suited to address major issues in society. Sixty-nine percent said that there are existing barriers in government as well as in business, education and communities that prevent people from achieving their best in life.

The top issue respondents selected as a barrier was the cost of health care. People also pointed to the national debt and cost of higher education as major issues preventing them from achieving their full potential. When asked about solutions to these problems, a majority said lower taxes, enforcing equal rights and putting health care in the hands of patients would be “very effective” steps.

A spokeswoman for In Pursuit Of said that a focus of this weekend’s donor meeting will be a comprehensive look at removing these barriers, and how the network and affiliated groups can help with this process.

The survey of 1,000 adults nationwide, conducted online July 16-18, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Sally Persons is RealClearPolitics' White House correspondent.

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