Inside the Beltway: Election Day: The next national holiday?
Imagine that Election Day became the next big holiday. Hallmark Cards Inc. would probably like the idea, along with retailers, restaurants and jittery Americans who appear eager to celebrate assorted observances and festivals.
“Majorities in both parties favor the idea of making Election Day a national holiday, though Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor this,” says a new Pew Research Center poll of 10,000 Americans that revealed that, indeed, 59 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats agree with the idea.
Legislation favoring elections as holidays have been around for a while. Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan introduced a bill in 2005 to designate “Democracy Day” as an election holiday; it drew 110 co-sponsors, all Democrats. Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont repeated the call in 2014.
“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy,” Mr. Sanders said at the time.
Democratic Reps. Donald McEachin of Virginia and Anna G. Eshoo of California introduced the “Election Day Holiday Act” just last month.
The election holiday mood is elsewhere. A recent USA Today op-ed from Archon Fung and Jane Mansbridge, both Harvard University political professors, suggests a new election holiday called Citizen Day, insisting that voting should be “a celebration, not a chore.”
“Let’s change Election Day as we know it. Give everyone Veterans Day off, and make it Election Day, too,” The Washington Post editorial board noted last week.
Meanwhile, New York-based Blue Point Brewing Co. is giving employees the day off on Nov. 6, and has brewed a special “Voters Day Off” beer with a limited edition commemorative can.
A tally by ElectionDay.org reports that more than 300 companies consider Election Day a vacation including Playboy Enterprises Inc. and Levi Strauss. But it’s complicated.
“If you’re going to make it a federal holiday, that’s basically forcing companies to give workers additional vacation time, so that’s going to cost them money and productivity,” Georgetown University government professor Michele Swers told Marketplace.org, which provides economic reports on 800 public radio stations.
But wait. The U.S. Government Accountability Office gave the ultimate rationale against an election holiday in a 2012 report that explored implementing federal elections on weekends: “Our review of 24 studies found that alternative voting methods have small and inconsistent effects on voter turnout, as compared to demographic differences among citizens. With the exception of vote by mail, each of the alternative voting methods we reviewed was estimated to increase or decrease turnout by no more than 4 percentage points.”
FOX NEWS NO. 1 FOR ALMOST 17 YEARS
In October, Fox News Channel marked 28 consecutive months as the most-watched cable network of all, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News trumped such competition as ESPN, TBS, USA Network, Hallmark Channel and HGTV. In the news realm, Fox continues best MSNBC and CNN, as it has for the last 202 consecutive months almost 17 years. In October, Fox News garnered 2.8 million viewers, compared to 1.6 million for MSNBC and 931,000 for CNN.
During the month, Fox claimed 13 of the top 15 cable news programs. “Hannity” remains the most-watched cable news program for the seventh consecutive month, with an average audience numbering 3.5 million followed by “Tucker Carlson” (3.2 million), “The Ingraham Angle” (3 million) and “The Five” (2.8 million).
WHO PINES FOR THE 1950s?
Americans are divided on whether the country’s culture and way of life have changed for the better or worse since the fabulous 1950s. Fifty percent say such change is for the better and 47 percent say culture has gotten worse, according to a PRRI “American Values” survey released Monday.
“There are significant partisan divides on this question, with 60 percent of Democrats and just 34 percent of Republicans believing American culture and way of life have improved since the 1950s; by contrast, 64 percent of Republicans say things have mostly changed for the worse,” the poll analysis said.
It also found that 47 percent of Americans say that things have changed so much they “feel like a stranger in their own country”; a slim majority (51 percent) disagree. Nearly 6-in-10 Republicans say that things have changed so much they feel alienated; 42 percent of Democrats agree.
‘TRADITIONAL VALUES’ GET A TRUMP BUMP
Gallup has long tracked public opinion about the federal government’s role in promoting values. Is it a good idea?
“From 1993 through 2004, the majority of Americans consistently said the government should promote traditional values. That attitude began to change in the middle of the 2000s, and since 2008, views on the issue have fluctuated,” reports Gallup Director Frank Newport.
“This year, about as many Americans say the government should promote traditional values (49 percent) as say it should not favor any values (47 percent). Republicans and Democrats have nearly mirror-opposite views on this topic. Almost 2 in 3 Republicans and Republican leaners say government should promote traditional values, while nearly 6 in 10 Democrats and leaners say government should not. Republicans’ views that government should promote traditional values dipped from 2011-2016, but have risen modestly over the past two years. Democrats’ views have been more variable, with the current 37 percent favoring the idea right at the average since 2001,” says Mr. Newport.
POLL DU JOUR
48 percent of Americans say the #MeToo movement has helped address sexual harassment; 67 percent of Democratic women, 34 percent of Republican women, 58 percent of Democratic men and 26 percent of Republican men agree.
18 percent say #MeToo has led to “unfair treatment of men”; 9 percent of Democratic women, 26 percent of Republican women, 8 percent of Democratic men and 38 percent of Republican men agree.
17 percent have not heard of the #MeToo movement; 14 percent of Democratic women, 25 percent of Republican women, 14 percent of Democratic men and 16 percent of Republican men agree.
16 percent say #MeToo has “not really made any difference”; 9 percent of Democratic women, 15 percent of Republican women, 17 percent of Democratic men and 20 percent of Republican men agree.
Source: A PRRI/NORC American Values survey of 2,509 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 17-Oct. 1 and released Monday.
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