Clinton as Dominant Among Union Members as Non-Members

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Democratic union members' preferences differ little from broader party

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's latest poll finds Hillary Clinton maintaining the better-than-20-percentage-point lead for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination that she has enjoyed since early August. Combined data from recent nomination preference polls shows that her dominance extends to a key Democratic constituency -- labor union members. Even though John Edwards has experienced some success in securing labor union endorsements, Clinton has a substantial lead over both Barack Obama and Edwards among Democratic union members. Generally speaking, Edwards does only slightly better among union members than non-members, while the opposite is true for Obama. Clinton's support is strong and similar among Democrats regardless of their union status.    

National Support for the Democratic Nomination

Gallup's latest poll, conducted Sept. 14-16, finds 47% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nationwide naming Clinton as their first choice for the 2008 presidential nomination. Obama is second at 25%, 22 points behind Clinton. Edwards is in third place; his 11% showing in the current poll is down from 16% in the prior poll and is his worst showing in any poll since a 10% reading in March. All other candidates for the Democratic nomination are at 5% or less. 

Democratic Nomination Preferences, Gallup Polls

Current Poll
(Sep 14-16)

Prior Poll
(Sep 7-8)

%

%

Clinton

47

45

Obama

25

24

Edwards

11

16

Richardson

5

2

Biden

3

3

Kucinich

2

2

Dodd

1

1

Gravel

1

1

 

 

Other

<.05

2

 

 

No opinion

4

5

Clinton has had a sizable lead in nearly every poll Gallup has conducted this year. From mid-June through July, Clinton's lead over Obama ranged from 12 percentage points to 16 points in three different polls. Her lead expanded in early August to more than 20 points and has remained in that range since then, varying between 21 points and 23 points. 

This expanded lead is mainly attributable to an increase in support for Clinton, rather than a decline in support for Obama. Clinton has averaged 47% support since August, compared with 40% from mid-June to July. The respective averages for Obama are 25% since August and 27% from mid-June to July.

Democratic Union Member Preferences

Combined data from the last five Gallup Polls -- consisting of more than 5,000 interviews conducted between mid-July and mid-September -- finds just 8% of Americans reporting that they, personally, belong to a labor union. Another 6% reside in a household with a labor union member. Even with the limited incidence of union membership in the United States, labor unions are known to effectively organize their members for political purposes, so their influence may be greater than their numbers might suggest, particularly within the Democratic Party.

Labor union members are a key Democratic constituency, given their strong support for the party. According to combined Gallup data, 63% of U.S. labor union members identify or lean toward the Democratic Party, while only 28% identify or lean toward the Republican Party. All told, about one in six Democratic identifiers or leaners are union members or live in a union household. 

All the Democratic presidential candidates are pro-union, and each has aggressively pursued labor union endorsements. National unions are now beginning to give their endorsements to the various candidates. So far, Edwards, Clinton, and Chris Dodd have won prominent union endorsements. But the data show rank-and-file union members who identify or lean toward the Democratic Party are solidly behind Clinton for the party's presidential nomination at this point, and differ little from non-union Democrats in their presidential preferences.

The data show that 45% of Democratic union members favor Clinton for the nomination, nearly identical to her 46% support among non-union members. Obama does slightly worse among union members (19%) than he does among non-members (26%). Even with significant union backing, Edwards' support is only slightly higher among union members (17%) than non-members (13%). The net effect is that Obama (19%) and Edwards (17%) essentially tie for second among union members, but both are well behind Clinton. All other Democrats are at 4% or below among union members.

Democrats' Preferences for 2008 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination, by Union Membership, Mid-July to Mid-September Gallup Data

All
Democrats

Democrats Who
Are Labor Union
Members

Democrats Who
Are Not Labor

Union Members

%

%

%

Clinton

46

45

46

Obama

26

19

26

Edwards

13

17

13

Richardson

4

3

4

Biden

3

4

3

Kucinich

2

3

2

Dodd

1

2

1

Gravel

1

1

1

 

 

 

Other

1

2

1

 

 

 

No opinion

5

4

5

The three leading Democratic candidates are viewed fairly similarly among Democratic union members -- 77% have a favorable view of Clinton, while 72% view Obama positively and 71% do the same for Edwards. Opinions of Clinton are similar among Democratic union members and non-members, but Edwards and Obama are viewed more positively by union members than non-members aligned with the party. This may merely result from union members being more likely to be familiar with Obama and Edwards than are non-union members, rather than having a greater appeal to Democrats with connections to organized labor. 

Democrats' Opinions of Leading 2008 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination Candidates, by Union Membership, Mid-July to Mid-September Gallup Data

All
Democrats

Democrats Who
Are Labor Union
Members

Democrats Who
Are Not Labor
Union Members

Clinton

%

%

%

   Favorable

75

77

74

   Unfavorable

22

20

22

   No opinion

4

3

4

 

 

 

Obama

 

 

 

   Favorable

66

72

65

   Unfavorable

18

14

18

   No opinion

17

14

17

 

 

 

Edwards

 

 

 

   Favorable

63

71

62

   Unfavorable

20

17

20

   No opinion

17

13

18

Thus, Democratic union members would likely accept any of the leading Democratic candidates as the party's presidential nominee. But the Democratic candidates don't look quite as strong in the general election context among all union members, including those who do not affiliate with the Democratic Party.

Obama, Edwards, and Clinton have favorable ratings in the mid-to-high 50s among all union members. But Republican Rudy Giuliani's favorable rating also exceeds 50% among this group, and John McCain's is close to that mark. Nearly half of union members are not familiar enough with Fred Thompson to rate him, but among those who do, more view him favorably than unfavorably. Mitt Romney is the only presidential candidate who is viewed more negatively than positively among union members. 

Favorable Opinion of Leading Presidential Candidates
Among All Union Members

Favorable

Unfavorable

No opinion

%

%

%

Obama

58

27

15

Edwards

56

29

15

Clinton

55

41

4

Giuliani

52

40

8

McCain

48

38

14

Thompson

31

24

46

Romney

22

36

42

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 531 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 14-16, 2007. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±5 percentage points.

Results for combined data from Gallup Polls conducted July 13-Sept. 16 are based on interviews with 2,472 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. For results based on this sample, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 284 Democratic union members, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 2,188 Democratic union non-members, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 453 union members, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28738/clinton-dominant-among-democratic-union-members-nonmembers.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030