‘Be Concerned’: Dems Freaking Out That Reliable Interest Group Is Turning To GOP

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Rebeka Zeljko Contributor
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As union voters shift their support toward Republicans, Democrats are becoming concerned that their once reliable voting block now might threaten President Joe Biden’s reelection bid.

Although Biden captured the union vote by a significant margin in 2020, recent polling indicates the self-proclaimed “most pro-union President” might have taken their support for granted, as his lead has plummeted to single digits. Democratic lawmakers have started to realize that their efforts to win over the union vote are “not translating into electoral support.” (RELATED: ‘USA’ Chants Erupt As Trump Makes Campaign Stop With Union Workers)

“We need to be concerned,” Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan told Axios. “We can’t just assume people are going to figure it out for themselves. We’ve got to tell the story.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 25: Former U.S. President Donald Trump fist pumps at cheering union workers at the construction site of the new J.P. Morgan Chase building on April 25, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“Democrats have to recognize that this affiliation [with union leadership] … is not translating into electoral support,” Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who challenged Biden in the 2024 presidential race, told Axios. “[Democrats] should be listening and finding ways to engage more with rank-and-file labor.”

The latest polling has indicated a shift in union support away from Democrats. In 2020, Biden outpaced Trump by 16 points, according to NBC’s exit polling. In Michigan alone, Biden led Trump among union voters by 25 points, according to ABC News’ 2020 exit polling.

Biden’s lead has plummeted to just nine points as of February, according to an NBC poll. A March Quinnipiac poll surveying Michigan voters also shows Biden leading by nine points. (RELATED: Union Manager Details Why Members Are ‘Fed Up’ With Biden Policies, Says Trump Has Chance)

Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, who serves as the vice chair of the congressional Labor Caucus, told Axios that union voters are a “skeptical audience.”

“This has been accelerating over the years … you’d be skeptical as a worker too,” Kaptur told Axios. “You’d want to listen [to Republicans].”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 31: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump meets with leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at their headquarters on January 31, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

These lackluster numbers came after one of America’s most powerful labor unions made its first major GOP contribution in two decades.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union that represents roughly 1.3 million transportation workers, donated $45,000 to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in February, according to Federal Election Commission records. This was the Teamsters’ first major RNC donation since 2004. (RELATED: Union Apprentice Details Shift In Politics After Trump Visit, Says Biden Team Never Responded To Meeting Group)

US President Joe Biden joins striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union at a picket line outside a General Motors Service Parts Operations plant in Belleville, Michigan, on September 26, 2023.  (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Prior to this donation, Teamsters donated $135,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in December 2023 and gave another $15,000 in March earlier that year, according to The Washington Post. The union also endorsed Biden in 2020, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 and former President Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008.

This donation follows a meeting former President Donald Trump had with the union’s executive board at Teamsters’ Washington, D.C., headquarters in January. On Jan. 4, Trump also met with Sean O’Brien, president of the Teamsters, in an attempt to peel away votes that otherwise may go to Democrats.

“Nobody can take union members for granted,” Steve Smith, deputy director of The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), told Axios.

“There’s only one candidate in this race fighting for American workers and creating good-paying union jobs here at home, and that’s President Biden. Donald Trump has spent his entire life fighting against workers’ rights, and now Trump is proudly running to ship union jobs abroad — just like he did in his first term. Joe Biden fights every single day for unions and workers across the country, and will continue to work to earn the support of Teamsters and all union voters,” Biden’s campaign said in a statement obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Trump’s national press secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

Editors Note: This story has been updated with comments from the Biden campaign. 

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