I’ve been noticing lately all the press being given to liberal blogs and the role they played in 2004 and that they are expected to play in 2006. I have no objection to this, and the more influential The Democratic Daily becomes the better this nation will be. The work people did for Kerry in 2004 and are doing in 2006 is, to quote a top 40 country song, “something to be proud of.”
Still, I can’t help but notice that when people in the blogosphere, MSM, street corner, etc. discuss the liberal base of the Democratic Party the one group that seems to almost never come up are labor unions. Some of this is labor’s fault as the unionization rate has fallen from 25% in the Carter years to barely over 12% today. Similarly, a great percent of labor folks did vote for Ronald Reagan (though Carter and Mondale both won the labor vote). But when you have a multi-racial, mutli-gender, multi-regional group of folks that gave 65% of their votes to Kerry in 2004 ( the highest percent of the union vote recieved by a Democrat since 1964) it’s a good idea to wonder what effect these people had in 2004 and how they can be mobilized in 2006.
As far as effect of the labor vote goes in 2004, go to a website that shows the red/blue map of 2004. Now picture that red/blue map with the following blue states covered in red: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. Had only non-union households gone to the polls in 2004, all the states listed would have gone for Bush (yes even oh-so-blue Illinois). Of the 252 electoral votes won by Kerry in 2004, 86 of those electoral votes came from states where the union household vote made the difference. To put it another way, rather than a final EV total of 286-252 the final EV total would have been a whopping 352-166! for Bush.
Exit polls asked voters if someone in their household belonged to a union. Michganders who said yes voted for Kerry 62%-37% while those without a union member in the household voted for Bush 55%-44%. The same percentages existed in Pennsylvania as well.
In Wisconsin, union household vote was Kerry 59%-39%, while the nonunion household vote was 53%-47%. Union households in Minnesota were for Kerry 61%-38%, non union was 52%-47% for Bush. In Illinois Kerry beat Bush 66%-34% among union households, but lost non-union ones 50%-49%. In Oregon, Bush won 51%-49% among nonunion households, but Kerry won Oregon union households 63%-36%.
Even in states where Kerry won the nonunion vote the union vote allowed Kerry to win those states by landslides. Among nonunion households in Washington state, Kerry won 52-46% but won 55%-44% among union households. Even California-home of the much maligned “Hollywood liberal”-saw Kerry win the nonunion vote by only 51%-47%, while Californians with a union member in their house voted for Kerry 59%-38%.
In conclusion, if unions can make an election close where the incumbent Republican has an approval rating of over 50%, just think what a similar effort would do in an election where Bush and the GOP have approval ratings like what they have now. Some folks in the blogosphere and the MSM might have forgotten about unions, but the GOP hasn’t. It’s not for nothing that Bush barred DHS employees from unionizing or Governor Matt “I can’t stop smoking” Blunts of Missouri is attempting to de-certify the public employees unions in Missouri. GOPers recognize high union turnout=bad news for right-wing nutjobs. Will Democrats recognize the same phenomena? Will Democrats cross picket lines as some folks in the MSM will want them to do? Or will they follow Kerry’s lead and refuse to cross picket lines even if it means cancelling important speeches?
Up next: How Kerry Overachieved in 2004 — and what it means for 2006.