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Richard Trumka: This November, You Make the Difference

Richard Trumka: This November, You Make the Difference

By now you may be ready for this election to be over, but this is the home stretch. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

From the presidential race on down the ticket, race after race is a dead heat.

One thing will make the difference—you.

Whether you’re a union member or not, we’re all in this together. And when you engage in the labor movement’s political program for working families, you wield the unmatched strength of people power.

That’s what we learned from a new AFL-CIO poll. I want to tell you about it.

Last week, the AFL-CIO looked at three must-win states—Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada. Those states could well determine the outcome of the presidential election and provide an inside view of the fight in all the battleground states.

Specifically, we polled a sample of AFL-CIO members and the voters in those states who have been contacted by our on-the-ground political program—including Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate; and Workers’ Voice, the labor movement’s PAC.

You see, in general, we don’t spend money on TV spots, like the millionaires and corporate CEOs do. Instead, we organize volunteers to get involved. Volunteers just like you, in a union or not.

We don’t just talk to union households. We talk to everybody. Our program is the largest political mobilization in the country outside the two main political parties.

We’ve always felt that a conversation on the doorstep can cut through the negative ads and accusations. And now our efforts are diversifying and pushing the classic program of person-to-person contact in innovative and bold directions. And it’s working.

In our recent poll, we saw voters shift their support to President Obama by huge margins after learning about the key issues through our program. From creating and protecting American jobs, to strengthening critical programs like Social Security and Medicare and advocating for responsible tax policies, we’re changing the debate.

While general polls have an almost even split, voters are connecting with President Obama through our program, while Mitt Romney struggles. For instance, people we surveyed believe that President 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.

And on the key issues that will drive voters’ decisions in the election and beyond, it’s no contest. When asked who you trust to do a better job handling the economy, 62% to 27% of union members and 48% to 39% of nonunion workers say President Obama. When asked if they support raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000: 72% to 24% of union members and 66% to 26% of nonunion workers say yes. And vast majorities oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

Those numbers are astonishing, especially when you think about the sheer volume of money spent to influence voters in this election—it’ll likely top $1 billion. And all that money hasn’t moved the dial like you do.

None of it can match a volunteer making a personal phone call or taking the time to have a conversation through a screen door. It’s your voice that makes the difference. We knew this from the start, but now we have the evidence to prove it.

And so I’d like to invite you to join us. We’d like you to come along with our 128,000 volunteers for the final stretch. Together, we’ll knock on 5.5 million doors, make 5.2 million phone calls, hand out 2 million leaflets and deliver 12 million pieces of mail.

Nothing is more important in politics than the involvement of working people. Nothing. A face-to-face conversation will beat a TV ad every time, because we look each other in the eye. We tell the honest truth about the candidates. And the people we visit know they can count on what we say.

We’ll make our message heard not just in this election, but every day after to reach our one goal—to strengthen and protect working families, all working families.

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