Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Political beliefs outweigh union ties for key group of Michigan voters

By 37ci3 Apr4,2024



Voters in union homes could be one of the most important groups in the key battleground states of 2024. But they are far from a unified bloc.

A number of focus groups highlighted deep divisions between union voters and their families in states like Michigan, where President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have both met with them. And they outlined why voters plan to put their political views ahead of their union affiliation when considering who to support in November.

Given that Biden won the state by less than 3 percentage points in 2020, the fight over union households in Michigan is especially important. the most “pro-union” president in recent memory, Biden joined auto workers on the picket line last year and there is repeatedly harassing union workers and their leadership on the trail. Months after that trip, The UAW endorsed Biden.

But Trump also plays a big role for unions. He met with the Teamsters earlier this year as he asked for their approval and he blasted UAW leadership during the strike because they do not represent the membership.

Recent surveys show this Biden has an advantage with voters in union housesbut with leads within the margin of error — down His advantage in the 2020 exit poll.

None of the 15 participants in the focus groups, which included Michigan union members and those with union members in their homes, said they considered Trump’s policies pro-union. And only Democratic voters said they considered Biden’s policies pro-union.

Given a choice between only Biden and Trump, seven focus group participants chose Biden, six chose Trump, and two did not vote. When offered more options, both of whom did not plan to vote chose independent Robert F. Kennedy and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“While all of these Michigan respondents come from union families, most do not identify as ‘union voters’ or take their political cues from union leadership,” Rich Thau said. Busywho moderated the sessions prepared in collaboration with Syracuse University and Sago For the NBC News Deciders Focus Group series.

All of those who participated in the focus groups said they based their votes on common issues such as the economy, immigration, abortion and democracy rather than feelings about their union past.

“I would vote for Trump. However, I don’t think he’s helped the union workers that much,” said Jessica T., a 38-year-old Southfield resident whose husband is in a construction union. “He kind of hurt the union workers, but I still feel strongly that Trump is better for our country than Biden. will manage better.”

Andrea G., 38, of Warren, a member of the United Auto Workers who plans to support Biden, said that “being a parent, being a mother, being a woman and being middle class is what makes me vote. mainly.”

Lack of enthusiasm for both Biden and Trump

Like other groups in the NBC News Deciders Focus Group series, these union-affiliated voters had a poor opinion of the major party’s presidential candidates.

When asked to say the first thing that came to mind when they heard Biden’s name, only two out of 15 shared anything remotely positive. The rest said words or phrases like “stupid”, “grandpa” and “weak”. Only three people shared positive thoughts about Trump, while the rest of the participants used phrases such as “untrustworthy”, “trash fire” and “bully”.

Many voters justified their support for one candidate more in terms of their opposition to the other candidate, even when asked to name positive characteristics about the candidate they supported.

Paul B. Biden, a 66-year-old retired UAW member from Detroit, said he supports Biden because “he’s a better alternative than opposing him because he’s not trying to create violence across the country, he’s not turning people around. Against each other like Trump. Trump is very hateful.”

Francisca B. Biden, a 58-year-old teachers union member from Pontiac, agreed about Biden: “I feel like she’s too old to be president, but I’d rather have her in charge than Trump.”

It was a similar story for Trump supporters.

Angela G., 55, of Sterling Heights, whose husband is a UAW member, pointed to Trump’s job record in her throaty endorsement.

“None of them are perfect, of course he’s not. He has his faults, but I think he wants to see the American people succeed,” he said of Trump.

Jessica T. lamented that “we Americans have fallen” under Biden and worries about the impact of another four years of the Biden administration as she thinks about her daughters’ future.

“It seems to me that Biden has divided many of us in our own country. Not only from country to country, but to our own country. We must be one. We should all work together,” he said. “We’re worse off than when Trump left us. It’s scary.”

Amid warm endorsements of Biden and Trump, two respondents said they would not vote if they had to choose between the two major party candidates.

Colleen T., 38, a registered Democrat from Grayling whose father is a UAW member, said she would not support her party’s candidate in a runoff and chose Stein in a five-way vote.

“Either way it’s going to be a dumpster fire, but I don’t think my vote will matter,” he said. “It will be just another politician. It’s like choosing between one bag of garbage and another.”

“I think Trump is going to divide the country even more than it already is, and he’s going to be as violent as he was last time in office,” Colleen T. continued. “And Biden would have more than we have now with inflation, opening borders and bills passed for people who are not working people.”

Unions and workers

Partisanship didn’t just color how these voters planned to vote. This affected their views on how their association represented them.

Biden voters were more likely than Trump supporters to say they were well represented by unions.

“Bargaining power led to better health benefits than what I was getting. And just like general benefits, vacation, sick time, things like that and safer work,” said Mary L., 44, of the administrative professionals union.

However, this was not the unanimous opinion of even Biden voters. Paul B., a retired UAW member who supports Biden, lamented that unions don’t believe they put workers first.

“Unions sold out workers years ago, before any of these presidents were even in office. They let the big corporations come in and feed them a handful of crap,” he said.

Republicans were also divided. Some expressed satisfaction with non-political representation, even though they did not believe that unions represented them or their family members politically.

“As a worker? They are well represented. I don’t think so in politics,” said Republican Trump supporter Debra P., 60, whose husband is in the UAW.

When choosing their candidates for the fall, voters did not prioritize whether they believed their candidate was “pro-union.” Still, Biden voters widely praised his work with unions.

“Over the past few years, I’ve seen our bargaining power increase, right-to-work laws begin to be repealed and our wages increase,” said union member Curtis S. Davison, 36, a teacher. “He’s starting to listen to us, I’m starting to feel that our voices are being heard.”

But some Trump voters spoke of a different test: They saw the former president as pro-worker, not necessarily pro-union.

“I think he’s all for putting people back to work, whether you’re unionized or not. If he was pro-union, he’d do what Biden did, go on the assembly line for a photo op, but he’s not. He does a good job for most people, he doesn’t go for a photo op,” said retired UAW member Larry P., 66, of Livonia.

“He wants the companies to make money, then their employees work and they make money.”

Margaret Talev, director of Syracuse University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship in Washington, said the divergence is “worth watching,” especially as many voters question whether union leaders share all of their priorities.

“It could be rationalization or picking up talking points by union voters who mostly favor Trump,” he said. “But talking about being pro-worker can also resonate more broadly in this era of increased individual focus and less trust in institutions.”

Concerns about electric vehicles

Amid debate over whether the transition to electric vehicles would be a positive or negative for union workers, the panel, which included voters from both auto unions and other unions, was largely skeptical.

Only two people expressed positive feelings about it new federal standards Aiming to increase electric and hybrid vehicles, teachers joined the union. Others, of all political stripes, have raised concerns about the push toward electric vehicles.

“The promise of all these new jobs that are going to be created by going to electric cars, I don’t know if that’s really going to happen. I think it’s more of a trade-off,” said Biden supporter and teacher Todd G., 45, of Canton.

But no one disagreed with Trump’s latest, controversial statement “blood bath” in the automotive industry if he was not elected president.

And overall, not a single participant said the debate would affect their vote.



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