Democrats' Surprisingly "Meh" Union Vote Performance

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 5 2012 1:31 PM

Democrats' Surprisingly "Meh" Union Vote Performance

A lot of pixels have been spilled on the political economy of labor unions over the past couple of years, but one wrinkle in this that you don't hear too much about is the Democratic Party's relatively weak performance with union households.

According to this Pew poll's internals, for example, 57 percent of union household members say they're planning to vote for Obama. That's a strong performance compared to his 47 percent showing in nonunion households. But there are plenty of demographic subcategories where Obama does better than 57 percent. He's backed by 59 percent of voters under 30, by 64 percent of unmarried women, by 93 percent of blacks, by 66 percent of Hispanics, by 61 percent of people with family incomes below $30,000, and 58 percent of women under the age of 50.

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Obviously none of that is to downplay the practical importance of labor unions to Democratic Party politics (see Molly Ball's great article on labor in Ohio), but everyone knows that if Obama only gets 57 percent of Hispanic votes on Tuesday, he's toast. But it's clear that African-Americans, Latinos, young people, and single women regard the GOP as antithetical to their values and interests in a way that labor households don't, even as the GOP has moved to a very ideologically rigorous anti-union policy platform.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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