Unions Overwhelmingly Support Democrats. Their Members Do Not.

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Pew Research Center just released a fairly interesting poll that attempts to break down the electorate into self-identified labels and how those labels correspond to support for either Republicans or Democrats. Many of the answers people gave and their corresponding party support were predictable. For instance, 79% of Republican supporters self-identified as a “supporter of the NRA,” while only 12% of Democrats were willing to accept that label. On the contrary, 60% of Democrats are quite happy to label themselves “feminists,” but only 14% of Republican backers identify that way.

Where the poll gets interesting, though, is when Pew asked respondents if they identified as “union members.” Here, one might reasonably expect the answers to trend in the same direction as “feminists.” After all, union organizations themselves are extraordinarily predictable when it comes to their support of Democratic candidates, and Democrats are always out on the campaign trail looking for this or that union endorsement. The two are irrevocably intertwined in American politics; indeed, data from the Center for Responsive Politics found that the top 12 labor unions in the U.S. give between 93 and 100% of their political donations to Democrats and liberal causes. The picture couldn’t be clearer.

But Pew found that this overwhelming bias towards the left does not necessarily extend to the union members themselves. Only 10% of Democrats self-identified as “union members,” and exactly that percentage of Republicans did the same. Right down the middle. Even Steven.

Much has been written in the liberal blogosphere over the past couple of years about the decline of labor unions in the United States and the corresponding decline of the Democratic Party, especially in the Midwest. Many of these pieces have been sharply critical of Democrats, whom they blame for failing to pass laws (when they were in federal power) that would have protected labor unions from the “right-to-work” laws that have been pushed by Republican state governments.

But to blame the Rust Belt’s manufacturing woes on the decline of unions is an absurd twist of the truth; union demands hurried the globalization of manufacturing, not the other way around. Many of the country’s top automakers, steel factories, and textile mills would still be in “Made in the USA” business today had the free market been in control of their wages.

In many states and in many companies – including, until recently, the big company known as the federal government – it is not up to the worker whether he or she “wants” to join the union. It’s a prerequisite for getting the job. Unfortunately, along with whatever collective bargaining benefits the employee is signing on for, they are also being forced to indirectly fund the Democratic Party. And as we see from this poll, that situation goes blatantly against the will of as many as 90% of union members.

The left likes to talk about gerrymandering and other “unfair” advantages the Republicans have over Democrats. They rarely address the fact that union members all over the country are being forced to donate money to a political cause they don’t actually support.