Did Union Members Turn Against Unions on Tuesday?

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Conservatives have made a big deal out of the fact that 38% of households with a union member voted for the union-busting Scott Walker in Tuesday’s election in Wisconsin. For example, here’s the New York Post:

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s successful battle to keep his job during this week’s Wisconsin recall election got a lift from an unexpected quarter — voters from union households….“The union members, they’ll support us,” said presidential candidate Mitt Romney during a campaign stop in Texas. “Without the union members who support our campaign and support conservative principles — we wouldn’t have Scott Walker win in Wisconsin if that weren’t the case.”

Walker’s labor vote was a surprise for the first-term incumbent, given the outcry over his policies that wiped out collective-bargaining rights and automatic dues collection for public-employee unions. And that chunk of the union vote contributed to his comfortable 7 point win, 53-46, over Democrat Tom Barrett.

Actually, this is exactly the opposite of surprising. Take a look at past elections. In 2004, 38% of union members and 40% of voters in union households voted for George Bush.  In 2008, 39% of union members and 38% of voters in union households voted for John McCain.  In 2010, 37% of voters in union households nationwide voted for Republicans, and that’s also the share of the union vote that Walker got in Wisconsin that year.

For better or worse, about 37% of union members vote for Republicans, both nationwide and in Wisconsin. On Tuesday they did it again. So whatever lessons there are from Tuesday’s election, the idea that union members are somehow abandoning their own cause isn’t one of them. On that score, nothing interesting happened at all.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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