It looked gloomy for the teachers’ unions last fall, facing the end of agency fees and the possibility of open revolt over their endorsement of Hillary Clinton. But Justice Scalia’s internal organs failed, and Bernie Sanders failed to capture at least Ohio or Illinois, and now NEA and AFT can breathe a sigh of relief.
While they’re happy, the rest of us now will have to endure the worst Presidential choice since Ford-Carter in 1976. A Trump nomination is probably the only thing that will bring the Sanders supporters back into the fold. The only organized labor complication I can see is that there may be some public sector/private sector union disagreement. No matter. A vote made while holding your nose counts the same as one made enthusiastically.
Both NEA and AFT acted according to form last night. NEA released a press statement about its “robust, targeted and strategic communications and field operations” while boasting of Clinton’s victories in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, and leaving out Illinois and Missouri, even though they eventually broke in her favor. AFT’s “Members Pivotal” release came later, so it included Illinois self-congratulation, but no cheering about Missouri.
Still, yesterday’s results reiterated what we learned from previous Democratic primaries: It’s the African-American vote carrying Hillary to victory, not the unions.
In Ohio, Clinton won 70 percent of the African-American vote and 53 percent of the white vote. In Missouri, she captured 67 percent of the African-American vote and only 45 percent of the white vote. In Illinois, she won 70 percent of the African-American vote and only 42 percent of the white vote. Sanders also won among Hispanics in Illinois.
Clinton won 56% of the union households in Ohio, but she also won 56% of the non-union households. In Missouri, Sanders won the union household vote by nine points, but Hillary won non-union households by one point, which was just enough to carry the day. (I cannot find an Illinois exit poll that asked the union household question. If you know of one, please send a link.)
So let’s skip over all this election hubbub and ask the important question: How grateful will President Clinton be? Will her favor extend past the unions’ preference for the next U.S. Secretary of Education? Once #NeverTrump prevails, #WhichHillary will be President? The unions have a lot riding on those questions.