In Midwest, Former Union Households Adopting Anti-Union Attitudes
But there is another underlying reason why Democrats have been losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Midwest. Simply put, they have contempt for blue-collar workers. Shortly around the time of Al Gore's presidential candidacy, Democratic elites began to write off working class Americans who lived in the "flyover states." They did not fit into the cultural vision of party activists who were enthusiastic about pacifism, environmentalism, or racial and gender issues.
Ruy Teixeira, a Democratic analyst of voting trends, sounded a call to arms about the abandonment of blue-collar workers in the Democratic Party. In 2000 he wrote a book hailed in some Democratic circles about the decline of America's white working class and its contribution to the Democratic Party. Texieira argued they were the key to any future election. Nevertheless, he also argued that Obama could win the presidential race without winning of a majority of white blue-collar Americans. Republicans are "dependent on a super-majority of the white working class to cobble together a majority coalition," Teixeira wrote. He suggests Democrats can prevail if they only slice off a small amount of blue-collar workers to their side.
John Harwood wrote in the New York Times in early 2008 that part of the new Democratic strategy was to deny conservatives super-majorities with the working class. Referring to Teixeira's strategy, Harwood asked:
How much blue-collar support would Mr. Obama need? Not a majority, said Mr. Teixeira. Though blue-collar Democrats once represented a centerpiece of the New Deal coalition, they have shrunk as a proportion of the information age-economy and as a proportion of the Democratic base.
Harwood points out that Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote while losing 23% of the white working class vote. John Kerry ran close even though he lost the blue-collar vote to Bush by 17%. If Obama only won 10-12 percent of the white working class and won huge majorities with minority voters, Harwood estimated there was the mathematical possibility he could become president.
Now a revolution may be occurring in the heartland of the United States: will organized labor win in these crucial battleground states, or will taxpayers? We will know before the year is out.