Poll: Majority of voters want Pa. to take action on pandemic inequities | Monday Morning Coffee

May 18, 2020 7:13 am

FLINT, MI – OCTOBER 13: United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on October 13, 2019 in Flint, Michigan. The UAW strike of GM enters its fifth week at midnight tonight, the unions longest national strike since 1970. The strike by approximately 50,000 UAW members has caused the shut down of 33 manufacturing plants. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If we know nothing else about the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that how well you were doing before lockdown has largely predicted how well you’ve been doing during it. From infection and fatality rates to access to broadband and preparation for distance learning, this sad and strange eight weeks had laid bare the vast expanse in income and opportunity that separates us from each other.

And in a new poll, middle of the road voters in 10 states (including Pennsylvania) — those who are neither strong Republicans nor strong Democrats – say they want state government to help close that gap.

More than nine in 10 respondents (91 percent) to the poll by the Democrat-friendly Global Strategy Group, believe “state government still needs to do more to protect the economy and hard-working families,” according to a statement released by the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, a progressive think-tank in Harrisburg.

Among the poll’s other findings, respondents support:

  • “Requiring workplaces to provide paid sick days to their employees” (90 percent)
  • “Providing low-interest loans to small businesses to help them make it through the crisis” (88 percent)
  • “Expanding a tax credit to provide extra income to working people with low incomes” (88 percent);
  • “Offering people in Pennsylvania the option to buy into the same public health insurance plans that are available to state employees if they want to” (86 percent); and
  • “Creating an insurance plan to provide paid family and medical leave for employees to care for a sick family member, bond with a new baby or recover from a major illness or injury” (84 percent).
The U.S. Capitol at night (Image via Flickr Commons)

The poll’s release came hours before the majority-Democrat U.S. House voted, along party lines, to approve a massive, $3 trillion relief bill aimed at blunting the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, which has been declared dead on arrival in the majority-Republican U.S. Senate, contains nearly $1 trillion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments. It would also offer direct payments of $1,200 to Americans, extend federal unemployment benefits, increase funding for nutrition assistance programs and ensure that every American can vote by mail in the November election, Capital-Star Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender reported.

But if the poll is any indication, voters in these states are looking for not only immediate economic relief, but a leveling of the playing field that has left some Americans feeling the aftershocks of the pandemic more profoundly than others.

Respondents agreed, among other things, that:

  • “Hard-working people are what keeps our economy strong through their hard work and investments in Pennsylvania businesses. We are seeing the proof of this during the coronavirus crisis. We must correct the system that has helped only those at the top for too long.” (89 percent)
  • “Our economy wasn’t ready for the coronavirus pandemic. We must deal with immediate economic and health problems right now, but we should also make permanent fixes to the way our economy and health systems work so that we are preparing the nation for the next crisis.” (57 percent)

The poll of 2,015 respondents, conducted from April 2 to April 8, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

(Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Big! Important! Voting! News!

If you’re not registered to vote — and if you want to vote in Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary election — today is the deadline to get registered. Don’t know how to do that? Don’t worry about it — The Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso has you covered in this handy-dandy explainer.

Like everything else in our pandemic-altered world, the way we’re going to cast our ballots in the quadrennial presidential canvass is different too.If you’re registered to vote, you can opt to try your luck at your nearest polling station.

But the situation being what it is, some localities, such as Philadelphia, are planning sharp reductions in the number of polling places. Be sure to check with your local county board of elections about polling places — and pay attention to local news sources (including the Capital-Star) for more information about that in the days to come.

If you don’t want to vote in person, you can apply to vote by mail here. You have until May 26 to apply for a mail-in ballot. That ballot must be returned by 8 p.m. election night.

County officials are already anticipating headaches due to the large number of mail-in ballots they expect to receive.Making things even more interesting, voters who do show up at the polls will be voting on new voting machines.

For those of you playing along at home, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, says he’ll be introducing legislation to extend the deadline to return mail-in ballots to June 9 during a disaster emergency, which would bring it in line with the existing deadline for military/overseas ballots. The calendar being what it is, it’s entirely unlikely that Rabb’s bill will get over the goal line before the primary. But points, as ever, for creative thinking.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Associate Editor Cassie Miller 
leads our coverage this morning with this week’s installment of The Numbers Racket, where she takes a deep dive into a recent Monmouth University poll sampling public sentiment on the pandemic.

Miller also has your must-read guide to next month’s very crowded Democratic primary for Pennsylvania auditor general. It’s the only statewide office on the ballot this spring, and the only one with a deep and varied field of contenders.

From the weekend:
U.S. Reps. Susan Wild, D-7th District
, and Conor Lamb, D-17th District, split from their fellow Democrats to vote against that stimulus packageWashington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender has even more details.

Our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune and the Pittsburgh Current respectively have what you need to know about a pair of very important panel discussions focusing on how Black and Brown Pennsylvanians are faring during the public health crisis.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Kathleen Hale, of SPIN in Philadelphia, says our elected leaders can’t overlook the intellectually disabled during the pandemic. And opinion regular Simon Haeder, of Penn State, looks at those who are falling through the insurance cracks during the pandemic.

En la Estrella-Capitaldesde plomeros hasta peluqueros para mascotas, Wolf revela una lista de empresas que han sido denegadas con exenciones para abrir. Y Zoom abrirá un puesto de Investigación y Desarrollo en Pittsburgh.

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Inquirer
 takes a look at how the pandemic has changed campaigning ahead of the June 2 primary.
If you can spare it, The Incline has 10 ways to use your stimulus check to help your neighbors in Pittsburgh.
PennLive looks at how Pennsylvania amusement parks might handle life after lockdown.
A suburban Allentown tattoo parlor reopened on Saturday, defying a Wolf administration order. The owner hopes other small businesses will follow his lead, the Morning Call reports.
County commissioners in Bradford County say they won’t devote county resources to ‘unconstitutional laws or mandates,’ the Daily Review of Towanda, Pa., reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

SEPTA has resumed some regular service in Pennsylvania, WHYY-FM reports.
County commissioners in Lebanon County have voted on their own to move from red to yellow, the PA Post reports.
Local police in NEPA are cracking down on people who litter PPE, the Citizens-Voice reports.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics. looks at staffing issues inside nursing homes during the pandemic.
An overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will be the first test of proxy voting in Congress, Roll Call reports.
Meanwhile, in England, there’s been a revolt over the easing of lockdown rules and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen a dip in his polling numbers, the Observer reports.

What Goes On.
The House convenes at 1 p.m. today.
Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.

Time TBD: Daily COVID19 briefing.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Have a birthday you’d like noted in this space? Hit us up at [email protected].

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s some nervy indie from Gentle Grip. It’s ‘Cities.

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Major League Baseball 
is considering banning spitting and high fives as it considers resuming play, Yahoo Sports reports. Showers might also be off limits.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.