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We’re Turning Around America

At the AFL-CIO, we’re all set to Turn Around America.

As I write, I’m lifting a mug o’ coffee and toast to Jane and the entire Firedoglake team who have done so much this election cycle to spotlight the perfidities of the McCain-Palin disaster and otherwise move forward a progressive vision our nation so desperately needs.

Sometime around 1 a.m., on Nov. 5, as I stood yelling in Lafayette Park along with thousands of my new best friends, the true meaning of solidarity—within the union movement and within the broader progressive movement—really hit home.

We’re still basking in the glow of the election here at the AFL-CIO. Some of the data coming out of our massive political mobilization are amazing.

Our months-long get-out-the-vote effort touched 13 million households in 24 battleground states. Union voters supported President-elect Barack Obama 67 percent to 30 percent over Sen. John McCain. In the top-tier battleground states the difference was even more stark, with union members going for Obama 69 to 28—a 41-point margin.

Among them, white, blue-collar workers, the group the mainstream media harped on for months as being so disillusioned by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s loss in the primaries, they would not vote for Obama or worse yet, cast disgruntled votes for McCain.

By the election, the union movement had helped turn around any such hesitation to vote for now President-elect Barack Obama that this group made up a substantial portion of those voting for him. As The Washington Post reported today:

support [for Obama] was particularly striking among white working-class voters, who were thought to be skeptical of the nation’s first black major party presidential nominee.

Exit poll data gathered for the AFL-CIO by Peter D. Hart Research Associates came up with some impressive figures. More from the Post:

among union members, Obama won the white male vote by 18 points, while he lost that same group in the general population by 16 points. There were also wide disparities in support for Obama between union and non-union voters who are white weekly churchgoers, veterans, gun owners and whites who have not graduated from college. Union members supported him in each case, while he lost each group in the general population, the poll found.

Some details:

  • While McCain won among voters ages 65 and up, active and retired union members older than 65 went for Obama by a 46-point margin.
  • While McCain won among veterans, union veterans went for Obama by a 25-point margin.
  • Members of the AFL-CIO community group, Working America, concentrated in key states, supported Obama by 67 percent to 30 percent.
  • 60 percent of union members and 56 percent of Working America members said the economy was a top issue.
  • Union members got a lot of contact from their unions about the election, with more than 80 percent receiving union mail, more than 80 percent receiving union publications, 59 percent getting live phone calls and 32 percent getting worksite fliers.
  • 75 percent of union members say Obama’s victory gives him a mandate to make major change. 81 percent support the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • 21 percent of voters were in a union or union household.
  • With 52 percent and more than 62 million votes, Obama has more than surpassed Bush’s 2004 win. His seven-point win over McCain is a decisive victory for pro-working family policies.

In union-heavy Midwestern states, where Bush had come close and McCain campaigned hard, the efforts of union volunteers helped put them solidly in Obama’s column. Obama won by 13 points in Wisconsin, 16 points in Michigan, 10 points in Minnesota and 11 points in Pennsylvania.

Here’s how this historic win took place. More than 250,000 union volunteers devoted their time and energy to reaching out to their fellow union members—educating them on issues, informing them about candidates and getting out the vote. Some 10 million door knocks, 70 million phone calls, 27 million worksite fliers and 57 million union mail pieces made the difference in races from the White House to state legislatures.

Throughout the union and progressive communities, we should take a minute and congratulate each other for what we’ve accomplished. Bright and early Nov. 5, we hung a giant banner on the AFL-CIO building, which is across Lafayette Park from the White House. The banner sums it up well:

We’re Turning Around America.

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Tula Connell

Tula Connell