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New Polls Show Majority of Voters Support Employee Free Choice

For most of the election season, voters in Senate battleground states were subjected to tens of millions of dollars in CEO-funded TV ads attacking attacking Democrats for supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. Not only did the ads fail to move voters, a majority of those who voted in key states said they support giving workers the free choice to form unions.

The polls are a strong rebuke to the $120 million campaign to fight Employee Free Choice, and should assure Senators that their constituents want to see change for working families.

Here are the main findings of the poll:

  • Nearly two-thirds (60%) of voters believe in even in these tough economic times, it is important to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and nearly one-third (31%) of voters strongly believe it should be a priority for Congress.
  • When told about proposed legislation in Congress that would “make it easier for workers to form unions by allowing employees to be represented by a union when a majority of their coworkers sign cards saying they want to join that union,” voters favor the Employee Free Choice Act by nearly three to one (55% favor; 28% oppose).
  • Voters “are more than twice as likely to say big corporations having too much power (50%) creates a bigger problem for people like them than big labor unions having too much power (23%).”
  • Overall, 55% of voters in these states say they approve of labor unions, compared with just 27% who say they disapprove.

These numbers are excellent news, and an affirmation for all the brave candidates who stood up for working families on the campaign trail this fall. Strong majorities of voters know that workers need to have free choice restored so our economy can get back on track. (This most recent polling comes after one survey found 68% of the middle class supports Employee Free Choice.)

Even more intriguing is the extent to which CEO-funded front groups failed to impact the election. The groups’ ads featured false stereotypes of union members, outright lies about the Employee Free Choice Act, and contributed to the overall nasty tone of Campaign 08. And voters saw fit to ignore them:

A poll of 942 voters in Senate battleground states taken Nov. 2-4 and released Thursday by American Rights at Work, an advocacy group, showed just three Republican voters said they were voting against the Democratic candidate because of the union issue.

Indeed, a number of new Senators-elect were viciously attacked. Here’s how 3 fared:

In Colorado, Senator-elect Mark Udall withstood millions of dollars of negative advertising, including three months of ads against his support of the bill. His final margin was three points higher than where he had been in the polls when the ads began.

The day after Oregon Senator-elect Jeff Merkley won his primary, ads started airing to attack his support for the bill, and anti-worker forces spent almost $1 million to defeat him. As the ads continued, Merkley rose steadily in the polls.

In New Hampshire, Senator-elect Jeanne Shaheen was one of the first candidates to face anti Employee Free Choice Act advertising. Despite spending $1.5 million in the tiny state of New Hampshire, the bill’s opponents failed to have an impact in this race.

The public knows what needs to happen to get our economy back on track. So far, more than $20 million spent against supporters of Employee Free Choice failed to do anything significant for CEOs’ front groups.

When the new Congress and President-elect Obama take office in January, Employee Free Choice will be part of their agenda. Clearly, we can win; we just need to get their backs when the CEO-funded front groups strike again. Join our campaign for Employee Free Choice.

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Michael Whitney

Michael Whitney

My name is Michael Whitney. I'm a progressive online organizer working with FDL Action. Rush Limbaugh called me "clueless" once. He went into rehab two days later.