The Trumpanzee Doesn't Deserve Any Working Class Votes-- But Do The Clintonians Really Even Care?
My interest in the post-Bernie presidential election season is tempered by my dislike of both candidates left standing. Trump as a human being isn't even worth considering and Hillary is too much of a classic Republican to ever be my cup a tea. What does keep me interested however, is the fundamental partisan realignment that is ripping apart FDR's New Deal coalition. It's the premise of Thomas Frank's new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened To The Party Of The People? and accounts for Trump's seemingly unlikely inroads among the whole working class.
Friday, the Teamsters Union announced that it's board had unanimously voted to endorse Hillary. The Teamsters are the 4th biggest union in the country with nearly a million and a half members and the union has frequently endorsed Republicans. in presidential contests. So far this cycle Labor has put $41,511,506 into federal campaigns, $34,851,678 of it towards Democrats and $6,486,478 towards Republicans. Among the big GOP winners are, incongruously, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey ($320,750), David McKinley of West Virginia ($237,500), Trumpist maniac Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania ($204,500), Ohio's right-winger David Joyce ($199,000), Paul Cook of California ($161,500), Long Island's Lee Zeldin ($145,500), Staten Island's Dan Donovan ($137,000), John Katko of Syracuse ($135,500), Long Island Trumpist Peter King ($127,300), Rodney Davis of Illinois ($126,700), California' Jeff Denham ($121,500 ). Unions have also given anti-union fanatic Roy Blunt of Missouri ($42,750).
Yeah, labor union bosses can be tools. Most backed Clinton over Bernie and look down at the Florida primary races being decided Tuesday. Union contributions to corrupt, self-serving, TPP-backing Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Wall Street and corporate shill have amounted to $173,000. Progressive champion of working families Tim Canova has gotten a grand total of $12,372 from unions. And in the Florida Senate race, corporate whore Patrick Murphy, Wall Street's top candidate nationally, has gotten $184,896 while Alan Grayson, a proven and effective fighter for unions-- perhaps the best in the entire Congress-- has only gotten from $63,482 unions. $63,482 for Alan Grayson; $320,750 for Frank LoBiondo!
I want to take a quick look at a few of the races Blue America is involved with where a champion of working families is in a contest against an enemy of working families. In each case, the unions have favored their own enemies with funds. In TX-21 unions have given far right fanatic Lamar Smith $12,500 and his progressive opponent Tom Wakely only $5,500. In CA-44, union have given the extraordinarily corrupt establishment candidate, Isadore Hall $164,300 and his progressive opponent Nanette Barragan just $2,575. In PA-07, unions have given Mary Ellen Balchunis $6,750 and her GOP opponent, Pat Meehan, $89,000. As we mentioned above, unions have wasted $127,300 on NY-02 Trumpist Peter King, while his progressive Democratic opponent, DuWayne Gregory, has only gotten $20,750 from unions. And in MI-06 unions have given one of their most dedicated enemies, Fred Upton $34,500 and his progressive Democratic opponent, Paul Clements just $5,000. This is a disgraceful pattern everywhere across the country.
Yesterday, Dave Jamieson had a more interesting report on how organized labor is making itself felt during the election. The AFL-CIO started Working America in 2003 and it has, among other things, campaigned to pass Obamacare, raise the minimum wage and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Right now, it’s all-in against Señor Trumpanzee. They have 150 paid, full-time canvassers hitting the pavement hard in a handful of swing states, and plan to ramp up to 500 closer to election day. They're canvassing primarily in working-class, mostly white, former industrial strongholds where lots of Democrats have felt abandoned by a Clintionian party establishment that has increasingly left them behind for Wall Street money and for professional and white collar voters.
On a recent evening, [Joshua] Lewis was canvassing in Wickliffe, Ohio, the blue-collar Lake County town where he grew up outside Cleveland. Wickliffe, which went for Obama in 2012, is 93 percent white (Lewis is African-American), and has a median household income of $48,000, according to census data. It’s just the sort of Rust Belt area that pundits point to when they say Trump could potentially redraw the electoral map with his nationalist, anti-trade message, if he can get his campaign in order.Blue America doesn't contribute to Republicans or to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the Blue Dogs and New Dems-- just to progressives, like these:
“There are folks who like Trump because his promises are appealing to them,” says Lewis. “A lot of them are concerned with the lack of good-paying jobs, and they think someone from the outside can come in and make those changes. But Trump doesn’t have a plan.”
The canvassing by Working America illustrates one of Clinton’s many advantages in the election. The former secretary of state has vastly outraised Trump throughout the campaign, and she is hammering her opponent with TV ads in battleground states like Ohio. But beyond her own campaign, groups like Working America are already running an ancillary ground game on Clinton’s behalf.
A pillar of the Democratic base, the AFL-CIO and major national unions have uniformly endorsed Clinton-- despite Trump’s proclamations that he is the candidate for union members-- and will run get-out-the-vote operations as the election nears.
Working America is particularly invested in the battleground state of Ohio, which Trump will likely need to win if he’s to prevail in November. As of the latest polling, Clinton probably holds a very slight lead in Ohio. Working America has 80 canvassers based in the state. Though it’s now ramping up, the Trump campaign had just 82 staffers nationwide in the month of July. (Clinton, by contrast, had 705.) Come October, Working America’s hopes to have 200 bodies in Ohio.
...As one would expect from the favorability polling, Lewis’ Wicliffe canvass turns up plenty of distaste for the Democratic nominee, some of it startling: “I don’t care for her.” “I don’t believe in her.” “I think she’s a liar.” “She’s a murderer.” Sometimes his goal is simply to warm someone to the idea of Clinton being president. “It’s tough to start out in a hole where you’re explaining that she wasn’t indicted,” he says.
On his nightly canvass, Lewis is aiming for what he calls pivots. There are two kinds. The half-pivot is when you steer an undecided voter toward Clinton’s side of the line. The full pivot is when you take a Trump supporter and flip him or her to Clinton. Not surprisingly, full pivots are much more elusive. The day before he met Craig, Lewis says he pulled off a rare feat-- half-pivoting a libertarian.
His proudest pivot came in Brunswick, Ohio, south of Cleveland. He was speaking to a single mother who said she had voted for Obama but now supported Trump. Her biggest concern was education. Lewis told her Trump has floated the idea of eliminating the Department of Education (true). By the time he stepped off the front stoop, the woman said she planned on voting for Clinton.
Before he can sway someone, Lewis needs them to explain what’s important to them going into the election.
“We’re holding up a mirror and letting them talk,” he says. “I just try to plant a seed. Give them a chance to verbalize their thoughts on the election and the working class. I want to have a polite talk with the facts, try to have people open up and have a conversation.”
Working America was one of the first groups to document Trump’s potential appeal in the Rust Belt in a general election. Back in the winter-- when most pundits and odds-makers were still writing Trump off in the GOP primary-- canvassers like Lewis were talking with people in Pittsburgh and Cleveland on their front porches, hearing their thoughts and concerns. They called it the “front porch focus group.”
They concluded that, out of the entire cluttered field of Republicans and Democrats, Trump was the single most popular candidate with the hundreds of people they spoke to. The group issued a splashy report essentially sounding the alarm: “Key white working-class voters have not made up their minds yet in the 2016 presidential race, but of those who have, Donald Trump is the strongest choice.” Once Working America endorsed Clinton, the group began actively campaigning against Trump.