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New Poll Shows Working Families Trust Obama on Economy, Social Issues

Wisconsin union volunteers talk to working family voters about the issues. Wisconsin AFL-CIO photo.

The latest polls show a close race between President Obama and Mitt Romney. But working family voters—union and nonunion—who have been contacted by the labor movement’s voter outreach program, overwhelmingly believe that President Obama is far more in tune with their needs and is vastly more trusted to handle the economy and social issues, such as Social Security and Medicare, according to a new poll.

The poll of working-class voters was conducted Oct. 17 among 454 union members and 433 nonunion workers in Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. All the poll respondents had been contacted during the election season either by the AFL-CIO or Workers' Voice about the election and the key issues.

In a telephone press conference this morning, AFL-CIO Political Director Mike Podhorzer said the poll numbers show that when voters are informed about the issues, either through door knocks, phone calls, worksite visits or mail, they come down firmly on the president’s side and “Romney’s policies are extraordinarily unpopular.”

The simple fact is that they believe President Obama is on their side and Mitt Romney isn’t. They believe President Obama favors a policy that is going to rebuild the middle class and Mitt Romney is favoring the same old policies that got us into the horrible economic calamity.

People surveyed believe that Obama has a better understanding of their everyday struggles than Mitt Romney by 54% to 16% among union members and 50% to 20% among nonunion workers.

When asked, “Who do you trust to do a better job handling the economy?” 62% to 27% of union members and 48% to 39% of nonunion workers said Obama. There were similar trust factor numbers for who they trusted to protect Medicare—65% to 24% of union members and 55% to 32% of nonunion workers said Obama. For Medicaid, 63% to 22% of union members and 53% to 31% of nonunion workers said Obama.

They were asked if they supported letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000 a year—something Romney opposes and Obama supports—and 72% to 24% of union members and 66% to 26% of nonunion workers said they supported letting the upper-income tax cuts expire.

While Romney wants to turn Medicare into a privatized “coupon care” system, respondents said Medicare should stay as it is and not change to a public/private hybrid system: 68% to 21% of union members and 64% to 24% of nonunion workers.

When asked if they supported cuts to Social Security, which could be on the table for the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, just 8% to 86% of union members and 10% to 85% of nonunion working family voters said they supported cuts.

Also, vast majorities said the government should focus on job creation instead of reducing the federal debt: 68% to 14% of union members and 66% to 18% of nonunion workers.

Podhorzer said, “As we bring these points home to people” about where Obama and Romney stand on these vital issues, “we will have a great turnout.”

In partnership with Working America, Workers' Voice and other progressive groups, the AFL-CIO is now able to reach beyond just union members and contact all working-class voters about the issues and the importance of getting out the vote.

AFL-CIO Campaigns Manager Sasha Bruce outlined the federation’s huge final get-out-the-vote drive, which is designed to get those voters to the polls in key communities across the country.

More than 128,000 volunteers will participate in the final four days to get out the vote. Union volunteers will knock on 5.5 million doors, make 5.2 million phone calls and hand out 2 million leaflets at worksites. Working-class voters will receive 12 million pieces of mail. Bruce said:

Allies with the same goals as we have are helping us reach our goals and get candidates who support working-family issues over the finish line on Nov. 6.

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