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« The Unions and '68 | Main | Prominent. Heh. »

The Unions and 2008

Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania last night 55-45. But what was interesting was the change in union support from previous contests. In Nevada, the two essentially tied, but the powerful Las Vegas-based service unions supported Obama. In Pennsylvania, the more heavily industrial unions supported Clinton, and she crushingly won union households 59-41.

But in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, home of the Steelers, union households comprised only 31% of the vote in the Democratic primary. That's it. That includes the public employees, which are both more unionized and more Democrat than private employees. What's more, of that 31%, only 19% were actual union members, while 12% were non-union voters in a union household.

(Interestingly, Clinton won actual union members 57-43, but won the non-union cohabitants 61-39. Naturally, I have no idea what this means. This may be because men are more likely to be union members, but women are more likely to vote for Hillary.)

Of course, Obama won the black vote 89-11. And while Hillary won those without college degrees 58-42, the "education gap" manifested itself again, with Obama winning college graduates 51-49. (Hat tip:

In 1968, Teddy White warned that the Democrats might well become the party of northern unions, southern blacks, and college campuses. In the past, these groups have tended to vote at least somewhat in synch, although the union vote has never matched the Democrat predilection of its leaders for campaign donations.

It may well be that the decline in private-sector union membership has hit a natural bottom, and can't really decline much farther. On the other hand, a severe economic crisis of the sort the Democrats appear determined to bring about could form the basis for renewed interest in unions as a means of soaking the supposedly deep pockets of companies verging on bankruptcy. In the meantime, the mutual disenchantment of blacks and unions, and the contempt of college campuses for both, are making the Democrat coalition look awfully shaky this year.

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