By: Dawn Huckelbridge
Paid Leave for All
Paid Leave for All started as an idea in Carol Joyner’s living room years ago — and since then has grown to a campaign of dozens of organizations, representing millions of parents, caregivers, survivors, military families, small business owners, and voters. It also grew an action arm in 2020, with the belief that with more political muscle we will get this policy over the finish line. Paid Leave for All Action has done polling across the country, run digital ad programs and cable ads, held rallies and virtual events, and supported partner organizations in the field. In a period of just a few months in our first year alone our partners spoke with more than 300,000 people directly on the phones and at the doors, sent nearly 1 million texts, and hosted more than two dozen virtual events and 60 in-person mutual aid events.
So what have we learned since our launch?
What we have found, as we expected, is that paid leave is politically powerful — with a lot of potential. Paid leave remains a politically salient issue that uniquely motivates progressive base voters and key persuadable groups. Polling, particularly among suburban and independent women, is at an all time high — in one battleground state, nearly 90% of voters supported universal paid family and medical leave. Our digital ad testing reinforces that paid leave appeals to people from all walks of life, voters in all parties. What we also have found is that candidates who focused on paid leave won. And finally, yes, we see enormous potential that needs to be tapped into. Why haven’t more donors given c4 dollars, why haven’t more candidates already run on paid leave?
It might have to do with who controls newsrooms and campaigns, and dollars. We hired a data and culture firm to do a social media analysis tracking what voters were talking about in the month before the election last year. In that month, we saw a 670% increase in news media mentions of paid leave. But even more significantly, we saw a 1700% uptick in conversations on paid leave on social media — reinforcing our instincts that although improving, the male dominated newsrooms and consultant classes may not cover paid leave like a top political priority relative to the levels of interest and support among “real people” and voters. Similar to abortion, the pundits and commentators are having a different conversation than the voters, and missing that for many voters, paid leave and care are all pocketbook issues, central to our lives and livelihoods — and a lot more expensive than gas or milk.
So we’re taking action. And even in the last few months, we’ve seen a shift. With our partners we plan to double down this cycle, shape media narratives and political influencers early, target more states and districts, and ensure every candidate and voter has heard about the urgency of paid leave. We hope you’ll join us — we plan to win.