The Washington Post

Poll: Americans support 5-day mail delivery

A U.S. Postal Service employee drives a truck covered with snow following a major winter storm on February 9, 2013 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

Most Americans approve of the U.S. Postal Service’s decision last week to end Saturday mail delivery, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 54 percent of Americans support the five-day delivery plan while 32 percent disapprove of it. The survey also showed that the change garners bipartisan support, with at least 50 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents supporting it.

For years, lawmakers have rejected the Postal Service’s call to end Saturday mail delivery, adding language in its spending bills that prohibit the agency from delivering less than six days a week.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe’s decision to move forward with five-day delivery looks like an attempt to circumvent Congress’s long-standing resistance to the plan, which the Postal Service believes will save about $2 billion annually. The agency lost $15.9 billion last fiscal year.

The Pew poll found “substantial racial differences” in opinions about the proposed change. It showed that 55 percent of African Americans oppose the Postal Service’s decision, making blacks the only major demographic group in which a majority disapproves.

Sixty-one percent of white Americans support the plan, the poll showed.

Pew also found that 67 percent of Americans who have heard a lot about the plan support it, and 56 percent of those who have heard a little about the action approve of it. But 60 percent of those who have heard nothing about the decision disapprove of it.

The Pew report did not elaborate on why African Americans might oppose the decision more than other major demographic groups.

“I suspect it has something to do with attitudes about the role of government,” Pew Associate Director Carroll Doherty said in an interview. “African Americans are generally more supportive of a government role and of government actions.”

In April, Pew released polling data that said more than twice as many blacks (55 percent) as whites (24 percent) had a favorable view of the federal government.

African Americans also have a long history of equal opportunity within the Postal Service. In the late 1860s, newly enfranchised African Americans began getting appointments as postmasters, clerks and letter carriers, said a 2012 report from the agency’s historian.

The president of the American Postal Workers Union said during a 2010 NPR interview that African Americans made up 21 percent of the Postal Service workforce.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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