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Most Say Union Leaders Out of Touch With Members

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Most voters – including those who are now or have been union members - believe the majority of union leaders are out of touch with their membership nationwide.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 20% of Likely U.S. Voters think most organized labor leaders do a good job representing union members. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say most union leaders are out of touch with most of their members from throughout the nation. One-in-four (24%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Even among voters who are now or have been a member of a labor union, only 25% think union leaders do a good job representing their membership. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of these voters say most organized labor leaders are out of touch with their members. This is a concern to Democrats this election cycle with many union members reportedly leaning toward Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump because of his positions on jobs and free trade even though union leaders are solidly behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Fifty percent (50%) of all voters continue to feel that labor unions have too much political influence in America today, unchanged from last September. Twenty-five percent (25%) still believe unions do not have enough political clout, but that’s down slightly from 30% in the previous survey. Thirteen percent (13%) say unions basically have no impact on politics in this country, while 11% are not sure.

Since organized labor historically has been strongly pro-Democratic, especially when it comes to giving money, it’s not surprising that 68% of Republicans and 53% of voters not affiliated with either major party think unions have too much political influence. Only 33% of Democrats agree, while slightly more Democratic voters (39%) say they don’t have enough influence.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 3-4, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

[Rasmussen Reports analysts Amy Holmes  and Fran Coombs are available for interested media. Please call 732-776-9777 ext. 205 for interviews.]

In late August of last year, just before Labor Day, 44% of Americans held a favorable view of labor unions, while 45% viewed them unfavorably. That included just 14% with a Very Favorable opinion and 24% with Very Unfavorable one.

Half of voters who are now or have been union members agree that unions have too much clout, but 33% of these voters don’t think they have enough influence. Just 21% of non-union members share that view.

Men are much more likely than women to think unions have too much political influence and that their leadership is out of touch with the rank and file. Women are more likely to be undecided.

Whites believe more strongly than blacks and other minority voters that unions have too much influence. Blacks feel much more strongly than the others that the leaders of organized labor are out of touch with their members.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans and 61% of unaffiliated voters say union leaders are out of touch with those they represent. Democrats agree but by a much narrower 46% to 30% margin.

The economy remains the number one issue for all voters this election cycle.

Americans strongly agree with both major presidential candidates about the importance of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and are willing to pay more for consumer goods to make it happen. Voters aren't big fans of NAFTA and other international free trade deals.

There’s been voter anger towards the leaders of both major political parties in this year’s highly contentious presidential primary season, but Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say their party bosses are out of touch with the voter base.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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