However unexpected, Donald Trump’s appeal to working-class Americans is undeniable—especially among union households.
A new report from Working America—the AFL-CIO’s grassroots affiliate—found that Trump held a sizable lead among union members who had already made up their minds about the candidates. He received support from 18 percent of them, ahead of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders combined (16 percent).
A substantial minority of union households—about 40 percent—typically vote Republican in any given election cycle, but Trump’s popularity suggests that unions’ generally reliable Democratic voting bloc isn’t a lock in 2016. “The working class constituents with whom we talk every night are fearful about their economic circumstances and prospects, angry about politicians who fail to address their concerns, and skeptical of the role of government,” the Working America report stated. Most of Trump’s backers are “fed-up voters” who support him because “he says what he thinks.”
It could pose a serious problem for the Democratic Party—which is already seeing an exodus of sorts. Leading up to Massachusetts’ primary, for example, almost 20,000 Bay State Democrats became either independents or registered Republicans. Many of them voted for Trump. In Illinois, 10 percent of Chicago primary voters chose Republican ballots—up from 6 percent in 2008. Leo Martin, a New Hampshire machinist, sums it up best: “The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years. This election is the first in my life where we can change what it means to be a Republican.”
Whatever that means now, it has the Left reeling.
For more on the rapidly shifting electorate, you can read the April edition of “Labor Watch” here.
This blog post was adapted from the April edition of Capital Research Center’s “Labor Watch,” by Steven J. Allen.