National Partnership for Women & Families

New Poll and Website Analysis Show Candidates Benefit from Prioritizing Family Friendly Workplace Policies

A Majority of Voters Say They Are More Likely to Vote for Candidates Who Talk About Workplace Supports, One-Third of Candidate Websites Highlighted Them in 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. — December 6, 2016 —

A record number of candidates mentioned paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair pay and fairness for pregnant workers on their campaign websites in 2016, and majorities of 2016 voters say they heard about these policies from candidates and are more likely to vote for candidates who discuss them. In fact, candidates who highlighted their positions on their websites this year were more likely than those who did not to win their races, controlling for other factors like incumbency. These are findings from two new studies released today by the National Partnership for Women & Families: a nationwide election eve/night poll and a comprehensive, multivariate analysis of the campaign websites and win/loss records of every 2016 general election candidate for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and governor. Together, the new analyses suggest that candidates and elected officials would be wise to make family friendly workplace policies a priority in coming years.

“People across the country urgently need supportive workplace policies like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave and fair pay that enable them to support themselves and care for their families, and they want elected officials to be responsive to that need,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “These studies confirm that voters recognize the importance of these common sense policies and reward candidates who publicly support them. Despite unprecedented attention this year, there is room for improvement when it comes to the number of candidates who take strong, public stands in favor of family friendly workplace policies. The vast majority of voters, across all demographic lines, are looking to Congress and the new administration to make progress on these issues.”

The nationwide survey reached 1,200 voters and was conducted by a bipartisan team from Lake Research Partners (memo) and The Tarrance Group (memo) from November 6 to November 8, 2016. It was commissioned by the National Partnership, which summarized the results here. Topline results are available here. Key findings include:

  • Voters say it is important for the next president and Congress to consider paid sick days and paid family and medical leave laws. Eight in 10 voters surveyed (82 percent) say this is true, including 58 percent who say it is “very important.” Virtually all Democrats (95 percent) and most independents (84 percent) and Republicans (70 percent) say it is important for the next president and Congress to consider these laws.
  • Voters say they favor establishing a national paid family and medical leave fund. More than three-quarters (78 percent) say they would favor establishing a national law that offers all workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave through a fund, including 64 percent who say they would “strongly favor” such a law.
  • Voters say they would be more likely to vote to re-elect a lawmaker who co-sponsors and votes for a national paid leave law. Nearly six in 10 voters (58 percent) say this is true, including 44 percent who say they would be “much more likely” to vote for a lawmaker who supports a national paid family and medical leave law.
  • There is no downside for lawmakers who prioritize these policies. A majority of voters in every demographic subgroup, including ideologically conservative men who voted for President-elect Trump, say it is important for the next president and Congress to consider laws that would ensure access to paid sick days and create a paid family and medical leave program.
  • Voters in states with U.S. Senate elections in 2018 say they support action on paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. More than eight in 10 voters (83 percent) in these 33 states say it is important for lawmakers to consider paid sick days and paid family and medical leave laws. Nearly eight in 10 of them (79 percent) also say they favor the creation of a national paid family and medical leave fund.
  • Voters say they heard about equal pay, paid sick days and paid family and medical leave this election cycle. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of voters surveyed say they heard candidates talk about these issues. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) say they heard “a lot” about these issues.
  • Voters say they are more likely to vote for candidates who express support for these issues. A majority of voters (56 percent) say a candidate or elected official speaking in support of equal pay, paid sick days and paid family and medical leave makes them more likely to vote for that person, including 77 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of independents and 39 percent of Republicans. Only 6 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for candidates who speak in support of these issues.
  • Voters express concern that serious medical or caregiving needs will result in financial hardship. Seven in 10 voters (71 percent) say that they or their families would face significant financial hardship if they had a serious illness, had a new child or had to care for a parent, spouse or child with a serious illness.

The campaign website analysis was conducted by the National Partnership to further explore candidates’ treatment of these policies in the 2016 election cycle, and to determine whether candidates who mentioned the issues on their websites were more likely to win, controlling for other important factors. The organization conducted a similar analysis in 2014. Key findings of this year’s analysis include:

  • More candidates included paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair or equal pay, or fairness for pregnant workers on their campaign websites in 2016 than did in 2014. One-third of candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and governor (34 percent) mentioned at least one of the issues on their websites this year, compared to 23 percent in 2014.
  • Candidates who included these issues on their websites this year were more likely to win. Candidates whose websites mentioned paid sick days or paid family and medical leave, in addition to fair or equal pay, were 6 percent more likely than those who did not mention any of the issues to win, controlling for factors like incumbency and race competitiveness. Candidates in competitive races were 8 percent more likely to win. And candidates in the states with U.S. Senate elections in 2018 were 7 percent more likely to win.
  • Candidates who mentioned the issues on their websites and made a specific, progressive policy recommendation were more likely to win. Candidates who expressed support for a clear, progressive policy position on at least one of the issues were 17 percent more likely to win than those who did not mention the issues at all, controlling for other factors.
  • Paid sick days and paid family and medical leave had the largest, most significant relationship to electoral success. Candidates in both competitive and non-competitive races who mentioned paid sick days were 10 percent more likely to win than candidates who did not, controlling for other important factors. Those in competitive races who mentioned paid family and medical leave were also 10 percent more likely to win. And overall, candidates who mentioned paid family and medical leave on their websites were 5 percent more likely to win than candidates who did not.

“Taken together, these findings make clear that family friendly workplace policies have broad, powerful appeal for voters and that they are an untapped source of support for many candidates across the country,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership. “More candidates and lawmakers are catching on that championing these policies speaks to the concerns of working families. As we look to the 2018 elections and beyond, there is much more that can and should be done to lift up these policies and pave the way for meaningful progress, especially at the national level.”

Federal proposals to address the need for paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair or equal pay, and fairness for pregnant workers are pending before Congress, including: the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national family and medical leave insurance program; the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would combat gender-based pay discrimination; and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable workplace accommodations. Several states and localities have advanced similar measures. And voters in Arizona and Washington approved the nation’s sixth and seventh statewide paid sick days laws on Election Day this year.

The National Partnership’s summary of the bipartisan poll results is available here and topline results are available here. Lake Research Partners’ memo on the results is available here. The Tarrance Group’s is here. And a memo summarizing the results of the National Partnership’s candidate website analysis can be found here.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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