Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting, the vast majority of Americans—including most Republicans—want the United States Postal Service funded so they can vote safely in November and get their mail on time, according to a new poll.
In the survey taken between August 14 and 18, 92% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans polled said that “a well-functioning United States Postal Service is important to having a smooth and successful election during the coronavirus pandemic,” and 88% of Democrats and six in 10 Republicans said that “funding for the United States Postal Service should be increased to ensure Americans’ mail gets delivered in a timely fashion.” Overall, 78% said the Post Office was essential for the election and nearly three-quarters of respondents said additional funding was necessary for timely mail delivery.
In an interview last week, Trump indicated that his opposition to more USPS funding is tied to his re-election concerns and said he opposed voting by mail, although he’s voted by mail in the past and recently requested a ballot for the upcoming election. On Wednesday, the Trump campaign sued New Jersey over its plans to use a “hybrid voting model” in which all voters are mailed a ballot and can decide whether to vote in-person or by mail, and the campaign sued Nevada over similar plans earlier this month.
“They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump had said on Fox Business last week. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
After a huge backlash to those comments, Trump took a marked shift in tone Monday. “I’m just making it good. I want to make the Post Office great again,” he told Fox News. “This isn’t a Trump thing; this has been one of the disasters of the world. We’re not tampering with the election.”
The findings from the Reuters/Ipsos poll come amid an uproar over Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent changes such as cutting overtime which has resulted in slower service, purportedly so the agency can cut its spending. On Wednesday, following protests at his homes in D.C. and Greensboro, North Carolina, and news that as many as 20 states were preparing to file lawsuits against the Trump administration over slowdowns in service, DeJoy suspended his operational changes until after the election.
DeJoy is a major GOP donor and former CEO of a logistics company who, along with his wife, Aldona Wos, has tens of millions tied up in assets in USPS competitors. DeJoy was appointed to the top USPS job in May. Wos, a former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia and North Carolina state health department chief, was nominated earlier this year by Trump to be the next ambassador to Canada.
The results of the poll are not exactly surprising: The USPS routinely ranks among the nation’s most trusted public services, and back in April, a Pew survey found a 91 percent favorability for the agency.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the Democratic-led House of Representatives back from its August recess early this week, and the chamber is expected to vote as early as Saturday to infuse $25 billion into the Postal Service. But central opposition to more funding for the USPS has always been from Senate Republicans and the White House; President Donald Trump even threatened to veto the CARES Act coronavirus stimulus in March if any funding was directed toward the Postal Service, the Washington Post reported in April.
The GOP’s posture might be changing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated on Tuesday that although the Senate isn’t likely to pass a postal-funding only bill, the Democrats’ push could revive stalled coronavirus relief talks. Earlier this week, Senate leadership told GOP aides that a much smaller coronavirus relief package totaling about $500 billion would be released this week, which would include around $10 billion in funding for the U.S.P.S. and liability protections, Politico reported Monday. The bill hasn’t yet been introduced.
The Post Office’s financial situation has been poor, particularly because of a 2006 law passed by Congress requiring the agency to pre-fund pensions for workers. Roughly 75% of the $161 billion in debt the U.S.P.S. had on the books at the end of 2019 comes from retiree benefits, according to the General Accountability Office.
Cover: Vote by mail-in ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office on Election Day during the 2020 Primary Election on August 18, 2020 in Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX