Union households in Oregon cast most ballots, study shows

SALEM - Last November union families in Oregon voted at a higher percentage rate than anywhere in the country, according to a study recently released by the Oregon AFL-CIO.

A total of 86.3 percent of Oregon voters in AFL-CIO union households cast their ballots in the 2000 general election, compared to 80.2 percent of non-union household voters.

"These numbers show the power of the union vote," said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt. "And they validate all the hard work our unions did in last year's Labor 2000 campaign to get out the word and get out the vote for the issues that matter to working families and the candidates who commit to stand up for those issues."

As a result of the higher turnout, union household voters cast 23.5 percent of the total votes in last year's general election in Oregon.

"And we'll do even better in 2002," said Nesbitt. "With the infrastructure we built last year, and a lower overall turnout likely in a non-presidential election, we're well-positioned to have an even bigger impact next year when Oregon voters will elect a new governor, re-shape the State Legislature after redistricting, and help determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate."

The Oregon AFL-CIO study was based on a name-to-name comparison of registered voters and voters who returned ballots in 27 of Oregon's 36 counties. (The counties which did not provide voter turnout information in a useable form were Crook, Harney, Hood River, Josephine, Lake, Sherman, Tillamook, Union and Wheeler.)

Nonetheless, the counties which provided such information comprise 94 percent of voters statewide. And the compilation of data from those counties yielded a revealing statistical profile of last year's election - including the importance of turnout from voters with no party affiliation (independents), younger voters, and those who did not vote in recent elections.

Among the study's findings:

* There was little difference in turnout between Republicans and Democrats, both union and non-union. But there was a big difference in turnout between union and non-union independent voters, who traditionally vote in lower numbers. The turnout was 75.6 percent among union voters registered as independents compared to a 67.3 percent turnout among non-union independents.

* As usual, older voters were more likely to vote than younger voters, but union voters (whose average age is the same as that of the general public) outdid their counterparts in every age group. In fact, union voter turnout was significantly higher among younger voters.

The turnout percentages by age group were:

Union NU

18-24 62.3% 56.4%

25-34 73.7% 68.5%

35-44 84.7% 78.7%

45-54 91.3% 86.7%

55-64 93.5% 90.4%

65+ 93.1% 90.1%

Infrequent voters turned out in greater numbers from union households. The AFL-CIO's biggest achievement was a 67.1 percent turnout from voters who had failed to vote in the last four primary and general elections in 1998 and 2000.

The Oregon AFL-CIO will provide affiliates with voter turnout percentages. Contact Steve Lanning at 503-585-6320 or from Portland 503-224-3169.

Among the best performing unions were the Fire Fighters (92.9 percent turnout), Musicians (92.4 percent), Letter Carriers (90.7 percent), American Federation of Teachers (90.3 percent) and Longshore Union (89.8 percent).

June 1, 2001 issue

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