AFT President’s Comments, Voter Survey Put National Election Results in Perspective

AFT President Randi Weingarten said today that Tuesday’s election results nationwide “reflect voters’ fear and anxiety about the economy and whether they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families. That fear and anxiety existed the day before yesterday, and it exists today. The administration and elected leaders at every level must focus on the economy and on jobs, jobs, jobs. Absent that, little will change.”

Weingarten’s thesis of a voter mandate to focus on fixing the economy and creating jobs was backed up by a Peter Hart Research Associates poll of voters in 100 “swing” congressional districts-i.e., districts that are not firmly under the control of either major party and thus can swing the balance of power from one to the other in any given election, as they did last night in favor of the Republican Party. The survey found that the electorate in these districts gave control of the House to the Republican Party but rejected many of the ideas advanced by influential Republicans. For instance, only 34 percent of all voters in these districts supported extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy (on annual incomes over $250,000), only 29 percent backed raising the Social Security retirement age, and only 28 percent backed privatizing Social Security. Only 18 percent of voters in the swing districts favored reducing or eliminating the minimum wage.

In fact, these voters also overwhelmingly supported key labor-backed solutions to the national economy’s weakness and high unemployment. Some 89 percent favored a major job-creation tax credit for business to create jobs in the United States. Seventy-seven percent of all voters favored job creation through rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools, and energy systems. The same percentage supported investing in jobs to maintain U.S. competitiveness with China, India, and Germany. And 65 percent said federal unemployment-insurance benefits should be extended for those who have lost their jobs and are unable to find new ones.