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What Do Unions Do ... to Voting?

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  • Richard B. Freeman

Abstract

This paper uses data from four different data sets to examine the union impact on the turnout of members and their support for union-preferred candidates. It rejects the claim that the union share of the electorate rose massively in the 1990s. It finds that union members are about 12 percentage points more likely to vote than non-union members and nonunion persons in union households are modestly more likely to vote than persons in nonunion households, but shows that most of the higher rate of turnout of unionists is due to socioeconomic factors that differentiate union members from others. With respect to voting preferences, union members are more likely to vote for a Democrat for the House or Presidency than demographically comparable nonunion voters, largely because union members have attitudes and voting inclinations favorable to the Democrats and to liberalism prior to a given campaign. Finally, the study identifies a sizable group of nonunion persons with pro-union attitudes that unions could potentially influence to maintain the union impact on elections even with declines in union density.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9992.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9992

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  1. Benjamin Radcliff, 2001. "Organized Labor and Electoral Participation in American National Elections," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(2), pages 405-414, April.
  2. Marick F. Masters & John T. Delaney, 1987. "Union political activities: A review of the empirical literature," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 40(3), pages 336-353, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," 2011 Meeting Papers 189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Giacomo Ponzetto, 2008. "Asymmetric information and trade policy," Economics Working Papers 1253, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2010.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 2003. "What, Me Vote?," NBER Working Papers 9896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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