A person stands in front of the Capitol building, holding a sign that reads

We know that we are stronger when we bring people together from different places and different races. By coming together, we can demand our leaders deliver better healthcare, schools, and jobs. Those should be our priority, not more money for weapons, war, and corporate defense contractors.  

In January 2022, we polled a representative sample of 1,240 U.S. adults. We wanted to gauge public opinion and learn which messages were most effective relating to Pentagon spending. We’ve summarized our finding in this digital toolkit. Use it to help build your message and communications strategy.  

Messaging Guidance:

DO use the Race/Class Narrative framework when building your message. All of our top-performing messages – listed in the grid below – used this framework.

DO build on existing majority support for spending cuts. In our poll, overall support for spending cuts started off high (56%) and grew over the course of the survey, ending at 60% (+4%). This majority support provides a solid base of support from which to grow.

DO target Latinx and evangelical audiences with your messaging. In our study we oversampled adults who self-identified as  Hispanic1 (n=345) and evangelical (n=384). We picked up significant support from both audiences over the course of our message testing. This shows that both audiences are moveable on this issue. In fact, some of our biggest gains in support for spending cuts came from Hispanics (+15%). The top-performing messages overall worked best for this group, as well.

DO emphasize line-item cuts to contractors and Space Force when addressing people on the political left. Overall, 37% of participants supported cuts to defense contractors. Thirty one percent supported by cuts to Space Force.

DO write out the “000’s.” Research from our partners shows that when we write out the zeros in the big numbers that support for spending cuts increases.

DO emphasize the role that spending cuts play in supporting talks with China. Fifty seven percent of participants agreed with the statement: “The U.S. government should engage in dialogue with China as much as possible to reduce tensions while reducing spending that would undermine talks.” Support for this statement was consistently high across demographics. That includes majority support (55%) among veterans, current service members, and military families.

DO proceed with caution when connecting Pentagon spending cuts and environmental/sustainability issues. Overall 50.4% of respondents supported cutting spending and redirecting those funds to green energy development. Support was higher among many demographics, such as Hispanics (65%). However, the messages we tested around the environment in sustainability generated mixed results. That was true both in our poll and in the focus group that came before it. We have some work to do to test into messaging that makes a clear and compelling link between cutting Pentagon spending and helping the environment. 

Sample Facebook copy:

Our strength comes from our ability to work together - bringing together people from different places and different races. For the U.S. to be a place where everyone can thrive, we cannot let the 1% and the politicians they pay for divide us against each other. We need to join together to build a more peaceful future, just like we’ve won civil rights and higher wages in the past. We can demand our leaders deliver better healthcare. We can demand better schools. We can demand better jobs. We don’t need more money for weapons, war, and corporate defense contractors.  

Whatever our color, background, or origin, most of us are thinking about the same things when we go to bed at night. We want to make sure that our family is safe, has good health care, and can pay the bills. But some politicians and corporate defense contractors exploit public fears about our nation’s safety. They do that to justify budgeting $813,000,000,000 on weapons and war. Weapons and war do not keep us safe. Instead, we should put our money and time into programs that ensure real safety and security for everyone. Example include a just judicial system, affordable health care, and economic opportunities. 

We can make life better for working people: Invest in education. Create better paying jobs. Make healthcare more affordable for Black, Brown, and white people struggling to make ends meet. All are better use of funds than the Pentagon and weapons of war.