A new poll is making its way through Iowa, focused on message-testing proposals on women’s economic security and paid family medical leave ideas. I received the call around 5:00 in the afternoon today. It went in-depth on some of the same issues that were tested in a poll call I got a few weeks ago, which was almost certainly from the Clinton campaign. This one appeared to be in line in terms of substance and structure with that one and the negative-messaging one DesMoinesDem reported on over at Bleeding Heartland. This call was from Nevada, however, instead of Michigan like the last two. Still, I would wager money it’s another Clinton-sponsored poll.
Most interesting with this call is its specific and narrow focus on paid medical leave. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this issue will form the centerpiece of a Clinton candidacy’s policy proposals. Its appeal to women is obvious, but it also can hit home with middle class families in general. Democrats have obviously talked about paid medical leave before, but if it’s the rallying issue for the party’s likely presidential nominee, it would take the debate to a whole new level and vastly increase its chances of being made into law.
Below is my transcription on the call. As always, I did my best to write it out word-for-word, but some of these questions were pretty long, so a few things may be paraphrased:
- Began with your basic questions on likelihood to participate in the Democratic Caucus in January 2016.
- This poll didn’t test who you were likely to support in the caucus
Next, the caller listed a number of policy proposals designed to helping women’s economic standing, and asked how supportive I was of these ideas:
- Strengthening laws to make sure women are paid the same as men
- Tax incentives to small businesses that provide their employees paid medical leave
- Increase funding for high-quality pre-K education
- Create a Paid Medical Leave Act
- Increase child tax credits for middle-class families
- Subsidize the cost of child care with public funds for lower and middle class families to make it more affordable
- [Something about increasing child care options – missed this one]
- Require employers to give workers up to seven paid sick days a year – to care for sick family members or themselves
The caller then described a paid medical leave proposal as requiring paid leave for at least (or up to?) 12 weeks, to be used for a serious illness, a seriously ill family member, or to care for a new child.
They then suggested ways this could be implemented, and asked how likely I would support that:
- Cost average workers about $2/week
- If it were funded by a 0.4% payroll tax, split evenly between the worker and the employer
- Paid for by an increase in taxes on the wealthy and by closing tax loopholes
The caller then listed statements people could make in favor of the proposal:
- Families deserve the security that comes with knowing that if a loved one falls seriously ill and needs to be cared for – or a woman needs to support a new child, they’d have options
- It would prevent women from dropping out of the workforce and help businesses reduce employee turnover. Ensures America has the best workforce possible
- Some employers are already required to give employees time off to care for families. This would let people keep at least some of their income in an emergency/new child. This provides inexpensive insurance while [didn’t get it all, too long]
And then statements people could make in opposition:
- Unfair to ask single or older people to pay for benefits for parents
- Struggling workers can’t afford this (I assume they were referring to the new payroll tax)
- Too much big government interference
- It wouldn’t work or be well-run
Which statement do you agree with more?
- This raises taxes on every hard-working person to pay for both parents and non-parents who would abuse the system
- It’s not just about mothers on maternity leave, it helps people care for sick parents, which will happen to everyone at some point
After hearing all this, how strongly do you support/not support a proposal to create a Paid Family Medical Leave program?
Now the caller transitioned to other topics. They listed reasons people give to supporting increasing funding for child care:
- Increase access to affordable child care – it makes economic sense, keeps talented workers in the workforce, and reduces people’s dependence on food stamps
- The average cost of daycare is over $11,000/year and out of reach for many middle-class families, even if both parents are working
- So many are struggling, making high quality childcare affordable will strengthen our families and our economy
Reasons people would oppose it. How convinced are you by:
- It’s better handled at the state level, not federal. Each state is different and we don’t need a one-size-fits-all federal government system
- It’s not government’s responsibility to raise children in their first years of life. Should be left to parents and families, not a one-size-fits-all federal program
Which do you agree with more?
- Not government’s responsibility to raise children in their first years of life and [missed the end of this one]
- Government can’t replace the role of parents, but it can support them by providing access to safe environments where children can learn and grow while their parents are at work
Why should women’s economic security be a top priority [or something like that]?:
- It’s a basic fairness issue – women who work hard should be rewarded. But they’re still making 78 cents on the dollar, a wage gap that hasn’t changed significantly in the last decade
- The world has changed a lot in the past 30-40 years, but the workplace has not. Many families depend on women’s income. We need to address the reality working families face today
- Women are the breadwinners in 40% of households across the country. Helping them would provide a boost to the economy and families in the long-run
- Need to do more to reward hard work in this country, but many women earn minimum wage or less. Many take sick days but have no options… [I lost the last part]
The poll then finished out with your basic demographics questions. Foolishly, I forgot to ask which company the poll was being done by.
If you get the poll yourself, make sure you write everything down and send it to me at IowaStartingLine@gmail.com
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Greg Hauenstein. See more of his work at greghauenstein.com