Following an election in which voters secured significant policy gains for working families through state and city ballot measures, poll results released today confirm that, by an overwhelming majority, voters nationwide support policies that promote their economic security such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. The poll results confirm the sentiments of voters in Massachusetts, Oakland, Calif., and Montclair and Trenton, N.J., who last week approved measures that will give one million additional workers access to paid sick days. That meant every paid sick days ballot measure that voters considered this year passed by a large majority, as did minimum wage increases in five politically diverse states. The new election eve/night poll of 2014 voters was commissioned by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Rockefeller Family Fund.
“Women and men across the country are frustrated with workplace policies that are badly out of sync with their needs and those of their families, and they are impatient for progress on family friendly programs and policies,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “These new survey data confirm that families feel economically vulnerable without these policies and that support for fair and family friendly workplace policies crosses demographic and party lines.”
“Voters could not be clearer – Americans of every stripe – young, old, conservative and progressive – want the workplace modernized so it reflects the realities of life today,” agreed Lisa Guide, associate director of the Rockefeller Family Fund. “They want their public officials to make changes that help women and their families earn equal pay for equal work, paid family and medical leave, and paid sick days. That was the unmistakable mandate out of the midterm elections.”
The nationwide survey of 1,200 voters, which was conducted by a bipartisan team from Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group from November 2 to November 4, 2014, found that 81 percent of voters said it is important for lawmakers to consider new laws that help keep working families economically secure such as paid sick days and a family and medical leave insurance system. Fifty-seven percent said it is “very important” that they do so. Other key findings include:
Public Opinion Poll Results
- Strong support for family friendly policies across party and demographic lines: 96 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents, 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of women, 75 percent of men, 95 percent of voters under 30, 97 percent of African Americans and 95 percent of Latinos said it is important for lawmakers to consider new family friendly workplace laws.
- Widespread concerns about serious medical or caregiving needs resulting in financial hardship: An overwhelming majority of voters, across demographic and party lines, said they or their families would likely face significant financial hardship if they had a serious illness, had to care for a family member with a serious illness, or had a new child: 66 percent said it is likely, and more than one-third (36 percent) said it is “very likely.”
- Approval of candidates who express support for policies that promote families’ economic security: Nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) said that an elected official’s support for equal pay for women, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave would make them more likely to vote for that elected official, including nearly half (46 percent) who said they would be much more likely to cast a favorable vote.
The National Partnership also separately analyzed candidates’ campaign websites to further explore how many focused on family friendly workplace policies. The review, which included all position statements, issue pages and press releases on the websites of all general election candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, reveals that only 23 percent of candidates featured their positions on fair or equal pay for women, paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, or pregnancy discrimination on their websites. But those candidates who did mention paid sick days or paid family and medical leave, in addition to fair or equal pay, were eight percent more likely to win than candidates who did not, taking other factors like party and incumbency into account.
Other key findings from the website analysis include: Women’s and families’ economic security issues were included on the websites of candidates in 47 of 50 states. Of the issues tracked, fair pay was the issue most commonly included. A higher percentage of candidates in competitive races than in noncompetitive races featured women’s and families’ economic security issues on their websites. Political party affiliation was the most significant indicator of whether a candidate included one of the issues. And a higher share of female than male candidates included the tracked issues on their websites.
“Taken together, our new poll results and the success of pro-worker ballot initiatives this election make clear that voters want fair and family friendly workplace policies and they approve of elected officials who support them,” continued Ness. “Yet our analysis of candidates’ campaign websites shows that not nearly enough candidates took advantage of that reality in this year’s election. As lawmakers at all levels consider their future priorities, they should put support for policies that promote women’s and families’ economic security high on their agendas.”
There are proposals before Congress that would address fair pay, paid sick days, paid family and medical leave and pregnancy discrimination, including: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would combat gender-based pay discrimination and was blocked in the Senate twice this year; 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; and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable workplace accommodations.
The topline results of the bipartisan poll commissioned by the National Partnership and the Rockefeller Family Fund can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/2014ElectionPoll.
A memo summarizing the results of the National Partnership’s candidate website analysis can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/2014CandidateWebsites.
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.