Support for government programs to help disadvantaged Americans, as well as sympathy for the plight of the poor, have surged since 1994 and returned to levels last seen in 1990 prior to welfare reform, with gains occurring among virtually every major social, political and demographic group.
Increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies have improved the political landscape for the Democrats as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway.
The federally assisted State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) has substantially reduced the number of American children without health coverage; advocates in Congress and governors of both parties, see the program as the foundation for universal health coverage. But the Bush administration is calling for cutbacks.
Even as divisive policy debates continue, public acceptance of homosexual marriage, adoption and military has increased.