Democrats Worry As Union Voters Shift Toward GOP

Democrats are growing anxious as union voters, a traditionally reliable support base, are showing signs of leaning toward the GOP. This shift could jeopardize President Joe Biden’s reelection bid in 2024. Biden, who won the union vote by a substantial margin in 2020, now faces a steep decline in support among these voters.

Recent polling reveals that Biden’s once-solid lead among union voters has significantly decreased. Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan expressed concern, telling Axios, “We need to be concerned. We can’t just assume people are going to figure it out for themselves. We’ve got to tell the story.” Similarly, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who challenged Biden in the 2024 presidential race, emphasized the need for Democrats to engage more with rank-and-file labor, noting that their traditional affiliation with union leadership is not translating into electoral support.

In 2020, Biden led Trump among union voters by 16 points, according to NBC’s exit polling. In Michigan, Biden’s lead was even larger, with a 25-point advantage. However, a February 2024 NBC poll shows Biden’s lead has dwindled to just nine points. A March Quinnipiac poll of Michigan voters reflected similar numbers, indicating a significant erosion of support.

Adding to Democratic concerns, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters made a significant donation to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in February, their first major GOP contribution in two decades. This $45,000 donation follows years of consistent support for Democratic candidates, including Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. The donation came after a meeting between former President Donald Trump and the union’s executive board in January, signaling a potential shift in political alliances.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, vice chair of the congressional Labor Caucus, acknowledged the skepticism among union voters, stating, “This has been accelerating over the years … you’d be skeptical as a worker too. You’d want to listen [to Republicans].”

Steve Smith, deputy director of the AFL-CIO, warned against complacency, saying, “Nobody can take union members for granted.” This sentiment underscores the urgency for Democrats to re-engage with a key voter demographic as the 2024 election approaches.