That’s the question the FT is asking. It’s an important question. Major drives by organized labor in Ohio and other Midwestern swing states are giving the president an edge. In an election where the results in Ohio could decide the contest, this is no small matter:
“In Ohio, because of the recent history under Kasich, we will be able to get people out. That is going to counteract any voter apathy you might expect due to the perception that not enough progress has been made,” says Dottie Fay, who was chair of the Democratic party in Ross country during the fight over SB5.Evan Steele, a firefighter in Chillicothe who is a Republican and regrets his vote for Mr Kasich, says the campaign against the law made a “huge difference” to his views about Republicans.
Back in Columbus, a change in election law under the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court is allowing unions to campaign directly not just to union households, as was once the case, but to non-union homes, roughly doubling the AFL-CIO’s reach, according to the labour union.
A massive push by organized labor is not the only thing that could ensure Obama’s re-election, but it is one of the few things that the president and his allies can have a great deal of influence over. After the past two years, organized labor has come to feel that a GOP sweep of Congress and the White House would create the worst political environment for labor since Andrew Mellon was Treasury secretary in the Coolidge administration. Faced with such a dire possibility, labor will pull out all the stops in this campaign.The larger question is how long labor can survive on this kind of emergency basis, where every election cycle presents the movement with massive challenges. Every dollar and every hour of staff and volunteer time that goes into life-or-death election campaigning is a resource that doesn’t go into staving off decades-long decline. It also diverts energy from the crucial task of re-imagining the American labor movement for the 21st century.Labor backing may help President Obama extend his lease on the White House. However, while defeat would be disastrous to labor, victory probably won’t reverse its decline.