The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Americans want later sunsets and their sunrises right on time

Sunset at the Tidal Basin on March 21. (Kevin Ambrose for The Washington Post)
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In the March 20 news article “Plan for permanent daylight saving faces doubts in the House,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said the chamber would need weeks or even months to reach a consensus on whether to abolish our twice-a-year ritual of changing our clocks. The House doesn’t need to dawdle, based on our research.

Most Americans support the Senate bill to make daylight saving time permanent, according to a national survey of more than 2,000 adults that the Harris Poll conducted March 17 to 21. Approval is strongest, at roughly two-thirds, among those in the silent and baby boomer generations. Interestingly, both generations were around when Congress briefly ended our spring-forward and fall-back practice from 1973 to 1974. Support falls below 50 percent among only the 18-to-24-year-olds in Generation Z.

In addition, a majority of respondents from every region, including Northern states, as well as households that include children, back making later sunsets a year-round thing.

When it comes to public sentiment, there seems to be no time like the present.

Will Johnson, Chicago

The writer is chief executive of the Harris Poll.

In all the recent articles on switching to permanent daylight saving time, there has been virtually no discussion of the real issue: the disparate impact between the eastern and western edges of each time zone.

At the winter solstice, the sun rises in Portland, Maine, at 7:14 a.m. and in Louisville at 8 a.m. We in Maine could probably handle 8:15 with permanent DST, but sunrise at 9 in Louisville would, I imagine, cause some difficulties getting kids to school. On the other hand, at the summer solstice with daylight saving time, the sun rises in Portland at 4:59 a.m. A switch to standard time would mean a sunrise at 3:59 a.m. Yikes! It’s hard enough to get adequate sleep as it is with a 4:59 a.m. sunrise.

As a resident of Maine, I’d love to see permanent DST, but I imagine the folks in Louisville would love to see permanent standard time. I don’t mind switching my clock twice a year; maybe we should leave things as they are.

Robert Bergman, Carrabassett Valley, Maine

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