Hillary Clinton said she would consider ending Daylight Saving Time

Senior Writer
Yahoo Finance
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump haven’t said much about Daylight Saving Time. (Source: Reuters)
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump haven’t said much about Daylight Saving Time. (Source: Reuters)

Considering Daylight Saving Time amid the 2016 campaign filled with issues like healthcare, immigration, sexual assault, and rising income inequality—just to name a few—may seem like a joke. But it’s not.

In a recent study, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) compared how the switch from Daylight Saving Time affected spending in Los Angeles and Phoenix (Arizona is one of the two states that doesn’t observe DST). The analysis found that consumer spending through debit cards drops 3.5% when clocks fall back and gain an hour in November. The study also found that recovering from that drop is slow; when the hour of evening light is returned in March, spending rises just 0.9%. “Over two-thirds of the decline is due to a reduction in the number of transactions, which is consistent with the idea that daylight affects the decision to go to the store,” the study says.

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The bank’s study jibes with much of what we’ve learned about switching to and from Daylight Saving Time. Research has shown that the energy savings President Richard Nixon touted when he promoted DST in a 1973 bill, the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973, have been mostly negligible, falling in the realm of statistical error, or varying widely state to state, since air conditioning and heating cost far more than candles and incandescent bulbs, let alone today’s efficient LED and fluorescent bulbs.

Additionally, multiple studies have found that the change to DST takes a toll on sleep that consistently spikes car crashes. According to one study published by a University of Colorado professor, each year between 2002 and 2011 averaged 30 deaths and $275 million in damage from the change.   

Plus, having separate summer and winter time zones means people get out of work in the dark half the year.

It might seem incidental, but presidents have a long history of tampering with Daylight Saving Time. And given that minor incidents tend to metastasize into major issues in an election year, it’s worth considering how our current candidates see DST. In 1986, Ronald Reagan moved the start of DST from late April to the first Sunday of the month. Again, George W. Bush expanded it to start even earlier in March and end later in November, back in 2007. Given the precedent, a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency could spearhead a change.

This year, clocks fall back just two days before the election, so official responses aren’t likely. But if the Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit posts by Trump supporters are anything to go by (“Daylight Savings” and “Trump” have a lot of hits on Twitter), they do not like changing their clocks. According to a tweet yesterday from one Trump supporter, “America will truly be great when president Trump finally ends daylight savings time. It’s useless!” It’s not a far stretch that Trump would agree, considering he doesn’t like to lose anything.

Officials from the Clinton and Trump campaigns have not responded to requests for their position on the matter—keep the change, stick with daylight saving time, or stick with standard time—and Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro declined to respond in an email (“Not an election issue. Let’s keep it real.”).

On the Clinton side, we actually have a somewhat clearer picture. In fact, the secretary herself has answered this question head on.

In February, Patrick Villa, a math professor at College of Southern Nevada, decided to ask Clinton about DST at a roundtable campaign event in Las Vegas. “I figured maybe someone striving for the presidency could give a minipromise to promote the end of this to the states if she got elected,” he told Yahoo Finance. “Living in a 24-hour city like Las Vegas, it really doesn’t help at all; rather, it disrupts. I’m all about efficiency and this is anything but that.”

So he asked whether she’d consider getting rid of the “archaic” time switch and make either DST or standard time permanent. “I’m serious about that,” he added. “It makes it hard.”

Clinton, and the crowd, let out a chuckle.

I will certainly consider that,” she told him. “I honestly think you may be the first person to do this in my 20 years of work who’s ever asked me that. I will take a look. I mean, people have talked about it with regard to energy savings and things like that — but getting teenagers up in the morning is hard under any kind of clock. And so let me take that back and think about it.”

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumerism, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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