BY: J.D. Prose

A new statewide poll of urban and rural Pennsylvania voters released last week shows they share similar opinions on corporate influence, school funding and the benefits of a $15 hourly minimum wage.

“This poll demonstrates there is more that unites us than divides us,” Daniel Doubet, executive director of Keystone Progress, said in a joint statement released with the “Building Community in the Commonwealth” poll.

The poll — conducted by Populus and commissioned by a coalition of progressive groups, including People’s Action, Reclaim Philadelphia, Keystone Progress Education Fund, POWER and HOPE Not Hate — surveyed 3,000 Pennsylvanians across every county earlier this month.

More than 70 percent of urban residents and nearly 70 percent of rural ones agreed that large corporations “rig the system to make profits at the expense of ordinary people” while nearly 80 percent from both urban and rural areas agreed that elected officials pay more attention to “wealthy campaign contributors and corporate lobbyists” than regular voters.

A majority of rural and urban residents also agreed that the powerful interests in America benefit by dividing people by race and origin as they “rig the economic rules to benefit themselves.”

An overwhelming majority, 66 percent, said they want a Pennsylvania that encourages everyone to thrive, not just the “wealthy few.” Those views were shared by most respondents across racial and income lines.

“We wanted to be a part of this poll to really see where we all have common ground,” said the Rev. Gregory Holston, executive director of POWER, a faith-based organizing group in southeastern and central Pennsylvania. “Across the board, we are seeing that issue after issue, there are more things that unite us — the wealthy are getting wealthier, the poor are getting poorer and politicians seem to care more about the wealthy than individuals.”

A large portion of urban and rural residents agreed that Pennsylvania schools are underfunded. Forty-three percent of total respondents felt that way, which included about 40 percent of rural residents and almost 45 percent of urban dwellers saying so.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed backed a $15 hourly minimum wage, with about 50 percent of rural residents and almost 60 percent of urban residents agreeing on it.

Nationally, lowering health-care costs (39 percent), fixing Social Security and protecting Medicare (31 percent), and lowering taxes (26 percent) were the top issues, according to those polled.

Asked if the government should invest in renewable energy, such as solar, rather than fossil fuels, such as coal, 70 percent of those polled said yes while 42 percent disagreed with putting job creation ahead of protecting the environment.

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