Despite the fact that teachers union bosses were all in for Hillary and made a heavy push for members to jump on the Clinton bandwagon, exit polls revealed that a large number of teachers ignored their leaders and voted for Trump. Now union officials are engaging in finger pointing and recriminations.
Union bosses failed to convince large numbers of their own members to follow their lead and vote for Hilary, according to the most recent data. Apparently one in five members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voted Trump and one in three — an even higher percentage of members of the National Education Association (NEA) — went for the real estate mogul despite what union leaders advocated, according to USA Today.
As a result, union leaders are scrambling to try to figure out why so many of their own members broke for the GOP on Election Day. But at least one union chief is calling her own members “sexist” over it all.
In recent comments, AFT President Randi Weingarten accused her own membership of sexism for refusing to vote for Hillary.
“Frankly I was always concerned about whether the country was ready to have a female president,” Weingarten said. “There was an intensity of hatred that male political figures never get. So I think we’re never really going to understand it.”
Weingarten strongly defended her union’s early support of Clinton despite the number of fans Bernie Sanders garnered among many far left activists. The union boss said she had “no regrets — absolutely no regrets” about her support of Clinton. She also noted that Bernie Sanders “was never tested or vetted by anyone, and frankly we have no idea whether he would have actually been able to get through this crucible … either.”
Teachers union members are far from the only union folks who supported Trump. While the latest exit polling shows that the bulk of union members still voted Democrat in 2016, the Washington Post reported that Trump trailed Clinton by only eight points among union households. The data shows Trump brought out more union support than any Republican since Ronald Reagan carved out a group of Democrats thereafter known as the “Reagan Democrat.”
Indeed, according to some union activists, Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office may present “an extinction level event” for unions as Republicans take control of both houses of Congress, the White House,and maybe even the Supreme Court if Trump follows through on campaign promises to appoint conservative-leaning justices.
Other union leaders are also scratching their heads over why so many of their members broke with leadership and voted Trump.
Perhaps in an effort to console himself, The AFL-CIO’s political director, Michael Podhorzer, told Politico that union members didn’t vote on issues. As far as Podhorzer was concerned, his members only broke for Trump because they didn’t like Mrs. Clinton’s personality. “I would argue that this was not an election that was won or lost on issues and policies,” he insisted.
All this navel gazing though, doesn’t explain why unions failed to get stronger support from their own membership despite the tens of millions collectively spent to get Hillary elected. Unions spent a record amount of their members’ dues money on left-wing political activism this year, only to see Democrats lose ground not only in Washington but all across the nation.
To name only a few, records show that The National Education Association threw $18.1 million into the coffers of Democrats and spent another $1.4 million on advocacy. The Service Employees International Union also opened its pocketbook wide, donating a whopping $19 million to Democrats. And the liberal UNITE HERE spent $4 million just to register voters.
All total, unions spent at least $108.2 million on politics this cycle compared to the $78 million spent in 2012 and the $59.1 million spent in 2008,
according to The Wall Street Journal.
Little of that went to Republicans.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.