Public Employee Unions Hemorrhaging Support
Rasmussen has a poll out today showing Romney leading Obama among likely voters in Wisconsin. Since the election is months away and campaigning has barely begun, that number is probably the least interesting thing in the poll. Much more interesting is the finding that a majority of voters in Wisconsin has an unfavorable opinion about public employee unions:
Most voters (51%) in the state view public employee unions unfavorably, while 46% share a favorable opinion of them. This includes 33% with a Very Unfavorable view of the unions and 27% with a Very Favorable one. The president draws overwhelming support from voters who view public employee unions favorably, while Romney draws equally heavy support from those who view them unfavorably.
This finding is even more stunning because Wisconsin is one of the most labor-friendly states in the union and where the Big Labor lobby has been focusing a massive PR campaign in recent months. Voter support for public employee unions should be higher in Wisconsin than in other states.
Instead, voters are increasingly reacting with hostility towards the demands of public employee unions. Many public employees enjoy wages in benefits vastly greater than those enjoyed by the taxpayers. This disconnect has been exacerbated since 2008 by continuing demands from many union leaders for business as usual — lavish pensions in an age when many voters fret about bare-bones Social Security benefits, gold-plated health care plans in an age where many voters are seeing their health plans cut back or even eliminated entirely, step increases in wages in an age when many voters face pay cuts, and iron-clad job security in an age of continuing hiring freezes.
The fundamental problem is that voters have awakened to the cost of public employee union demands and they don’t like it. It is not (as many union leaders try to spin it) a slander against teachers, police, and firefighters. It is a realization that many public bureaucrats as well as those teachers, police, and firefighters are being led by people who are fundamentally tone-deaf to the post-recession realities of the American economy.
The public employee unions will need to adjust their demands downward by a lot or they will continue to wither. The failure of the Wisconsin governor recall could be the first in a long line of lost battles for public employee unions.