**New Poll Shows Union Vote Provided Key Support in Battlegrounds**
Leaders Vow to Continue Grassroots Campaign to Restore Economy That Works for All
Union voters played an important role in President-elect Obama’s historic victory, delivering a critical bloc of support in swing states that helped propel Obama and other working family candidates to big wins last night, election-night polling released by the AFL-CIO today showed. Calling the victory in the presidential race and the expansion of majorities in the House and Senate a working families’ mandate for broad-based economic change, AFL-CIO leaders vowed to continue the large-scale mobilization to push through broad economic reform.
“Led by a candidate with an uncommon ability to inspire hope, we reclaimed our country from those who are serving corporate interests and the privileged at the expense of everyone else,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. “We have taken the first crucial steps to build a better future for our children and grandchildren. And what we’ve seen – the stunning voter participation and the common call for change – is an indication of the history we can continue to make together.”
High turnout among working-class union voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan formed a foundation of support for Obama. In new battleground states like Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, Sweeney said the AFL-CIO mounted a bigger effort than ever before, voting by large margins for Obama, and “joined young people and other new voters to build a new majority for economic fairness.” AFL-CIO union members across battleground states supported Obama by a whopping 68-30 margin, according to an election night survey conducted for the AFL-CIO by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.
“More than 250,000 union volunteers took to the streets in the largest independent voter mobilization in history,” AFL-CIO Political Committee Chair and AFSCME President Gerald McEntee said. “People volunteered because they want a President who will fight for America’s working families. In the critical battleground states, workers gave Sen. Obama the winning edge.”
Other key findings from the election-night survey include:
· Obama won among white men who are union members by 18 points while losing that group by 16 points in the general public;
· Obama won among union gun owners by a 12-point margin while losing that group in the general public by 25 points;
· Union veterans voted for Obama by a 25-point margin. He lost among that group in the general public by nine points;
· Working America members voted 67-30 for Obama. Working America gun owners (33% own guns) voted 23 points for Obama; general public gun owners voted 25 points for McCain;
· Sixty percent of union members identified the economy and jobs as their top issue with 84 percent saying strengthening the economy was the most important factor in their vote;
· Union members identified protecting pensions and Social Security and reducing health care costs as the top priorities for the new Administration; Seventy-five percent say the new President and Congress has a mandate to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and reform health care;
· Eighty-one percent of union members support passing the Employee Free Choice Act
The record mobilization for this election won’t end on election day, AFL-CIO leaders said.
“The election is just step one in delivering the change we need,” Sweeney said. “Working men and women are poised to keep the energy pumping to help the Obama administration lead the change we need. There will be no gap or letdown.”
Working families’ immediate and long-term priorities include:
· A broad-based economic recovery package in the short term that provides aid to cash-strapped local and state governments to maintain vital services, extends unemployment benefits and increases funding for food stamps to provide relief to working families who are hurting during the economic downturn and invests in infrastructure spending to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and schools and put people to work ;
· Restoring workers’ freedom to join unions and bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits by passing the Employee Free Choice Act;
· Reforming our broken health care system to cut costs for families, increase access to quality care and provide coverage to the nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance;
· Investing in America’s future and create a new economy of good, green jobs through long-term infrastructure projects; education and skills; and clean, renewable, home-grown energy;
· Re-regulating Wall Street to restore the integrity of the banking and financial sectors and protect working people’s hard earned money - - their pensions, savings and homes;
· Developing a new model for fair trade that will restore American competitiveness and protect good jobs at home and worker’s rights around the world;
· Enacting broad-based tax reform to end tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations that outsource American jobs.
This year’s campaign was the largest, broadest and most targeted effort in AFL-CIO history. The program reached union members, members of union households, retirees and members of Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate for workers who don’t have a union on the job. In all, the AFL-CIO’s program reached out to more than 13 million union voters in 24 battleground states. The AFL-CIO was engaged in 13 Senate races, 60 House contests as well as the presidential race.
More than 250,000 AFL-CIO volunteers gave up countless evenings and weekends throughout the course of this campaign to talk to co-workers, neighbors and other union members about the stakes in this election. In the final four days of the election, the AFL-CIO’s “Final Four” GOTV program reached millions of union voters in battleground states.
Over the course of the campaign, volunteers made 76 million phone calls, knocked on 14 million doors and delivered 29 million flyers at worksites. The AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions sent 57 million pieces of mail to union households this year. As a result of this effort, 84 percent of union members in battleground states said they heard from their union this election cycle.
Working America played a central role in delivering working-class union voters this election. Working America grew to 2.5 million members this year, including 800,000 members in Ohio alone. The organization ran a year-long mobilization, engaging its members – mostly working-class moderates and independents -- on health care, green jobs and other issues important to working families. In the final days before the election, more than 1,000 full-time canvassers fanned out across 11 battleground states. In total, Working America knocked on 1.65 million doors to encourage members to vote and educate them on the candidates’ positions on working family issues.
The 2008 effort relied heavily on sophisticated targeting designed to increase voter turnout for Obama and other working family candidates among exurban and rural voters in key states. Since identifying more than 3 million undecided voters in August, the AFL-CIO’s intense communications among swing groups like retirees, veterans and gun owners shifted the landscape in states such as Ohio.
The AFL-CIO also carried out a nine-state voter protection program to ensure every vote would count on Election Day. The My Vote, My Right voting rights protection program worked for several months to educate citizens about their voting rights, train polling monitors and worked closely with Secretaries of State on election administration plans, AFL-CIO Political Director Karen Ackerman said. On Election Day, the program deployed more than 2,700 volunteer polling monitors nationwide, including 800 in Michigan and 500 in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest umbrella organization of unions, representing 10.5 million working men and women nationwide.
Contact: Steve Smith, Alison Omens