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Federal Disaster Relief Poll: Majority Supports Government Help In Times Of Crisis

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FEDERAL DISASTER RELIEF
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney receives bags of food as he participates in a campaign event collecting supplies from residents local relief organizations for victims of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) | AP

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that a large majority of Americans think the federal government should help provide assistance to those impacted by natural disasters. Some politicians, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have in the past supported cuts for FEMA, the agency that provides such relief -- though Romney's campaign said this week that he would not cut FEMA.

According to the survey, 64 percent of Americans favor the federal government providing assistance to communities impacted by natural disasters, while only 19 percent say that relief should be left to state and local governments.

Even among Republicans, a 48 percent plurality said that the federal government should provide assistance, while 37 percent said it should be left to the states. The survey was conducted using YouGov's online panel on Oct. 29-30 and has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

During a CNN debate that occurred when Romney was fighting for the Republican nomination, Romney's response to a question about FEMA and disaster relief implied that he would prefer to cut federal funding for the agency and instead "send it back to the states." On Wednesday morning, though, Romney's campaign released a statement explaining the candidate believes "FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters" and promising to make sure FEMA had the funding to fulfill that role.

Other politicians who have said in the past that they favor cutting federal disaster assistance include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said that disaster aid for Sandy victims must come with strings attached to prevent spending on "Gucci bags and massage parlors."

The new HuffPost/YouGov surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults. It used a sample that was selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church.

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The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

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