The Hill Poll: Voters place priority on union debate

In the wake of the contentious Wisconsin recall election, 46 percent of voters said they consider issues like collective bargaining and public sector worker pensions “very important” to how they vote in the presidential election. 

A further 30 percent said those issues were “somewhat important.”

The results underscore how the intense focus on the Wisconsin recall election has reverberated nationally, placing questions about the role of unions and their impact on government finances at the forefront of voters’ minds. 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) fended off last week’s vote after months spent in a pitched battle with his state’s public sector unions over collective bargaining rights. 

The Hill Poll found voters, overall, are almost evenly split on how they feel about unions. 

Asked if they thought “strong labor unions” were good or bad for America, 42 percent said “good.” Another 43 percent said “bad,” while the remaining 15 percent said they weren’t sure.

But the survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted June 7 by Pulse Opinion Research, found a stark partisan divide at the core of the debate on unions. 

The poll showed 60 percent of Republicans thought unions were bad for the country while just 25 percent of GOP members thought they were good. 

Sixty-nine percent of Democrats, meantime, thought unions were good for America while 23 percent thought they were bad.

There was also a marked divide between men and women voters. Nearly half of men, 48 percent, supported the idea of strong labor unions, compared to just 36 percent of women. 

Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday’s Wisconsin ballot, winning 53.1 percent of the vote to the Democrat’s 46.3 percent. 

Unions had campaigned against Walker after he pushed through legislation last year to end collective bargaining rights for some of the state’s public workers.

Walker has said he backed the legislation to help institute state budget reforms. Labor argued the governor targeted union workers to reduce unions’ political power.

Click here to view data from The Hill Poll.