As some of the most strident tea party antigovernment passions begin to wane across the country, the collective-bargaining donnybrook in Wisconsin and elsewhere appears to have produced a pro-labor reawakening on the left.
A new poll shows that while overall views of labor unions remain largely unchanged from before the high-profile showdown in Wisconsin, there has been a sharp surge in support among Democrats -- particularly liberals -- for unions. These are the base voters who had grown most disaffected as Big Labor and its policies suffered political setbacks.
Among self-identified “liberal Democrats,” the percentage of those who said they had a “very favorable” view of unions more than doubled, from 14 percent early last month to 32 percent, in the survey released today by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Pride in labor households rose, too, with the number of those who highly esteem unions spiking from 27 percent in the February poll to 45 percent today.
Even with Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading what has become nationally significant confrontation with public-employee unions, the “very favorable” numbers among GOP respondents showed a marked increase, although still slim compared with Democratic opinions. In the earlier poll, taken February 2-7, 5 percent of conservative Republicans reported the “very favorable view.” In the new survey, taken February 21 through March 1, it was 9 percent.
At the same time, anger toward the federal government, after cresting last fall in midterm elections that handed control of the House to Republicans, have markedly subsided.
While a 59 percent majority still reports “frustration” toward Washington, up from 52 percent in September, the number of those surveyed who said they are “angry” has dropped from 23 percent to 14 precent. Among those who agree with the tea party, anger has plunged, from 47 percent in September and 43 percent a year ago to 28 percent today.
The Pew poll showed gay marriage on a slowly rising trend line toward majority support, up 8 percent from 2009 to 45 percent; opposition to it fell 8 percentage points to 46 percent.
The poll of 1,504 adults has a margin of error margin of 3 percent for the whole sample and up to 6 percent for subgroups.