87% of young voters in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin more likely to back pro-worker candidates
New poll shows Democratic support for workers’ rights is a key component in midterm over-performance; more action could expand electorate with younger voters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a new Senate battleground states poll released today, 87% of young voters under 40 say that a top issue motivating them to vote is support for workers’ rights – and the new data shows that this voting bloc is fueling the ongoing surge of Democratic over-performance in this fall’s most hotly-contested Senate races.
A new poll by Hart Research found that Democratic candidates have an overall lead in Senate battleground races, but their advantage is provided entirely by a 28-point lead amongst young voters. The poll was commissioned by the Worker Power Coalition and the Communications Workers of America. The Worker Power Coalition is the largest U.S. labor-progressive alliance in the country, representing 24 million workers.
With worker rights emerging as one of the most energizing 2022 issues activating young voters – a key demographic whose turnout traditionally has faltered during non-Presidential election cycles – labor rights are a critical piece of a Democratic path to victory in November.
Young voter turnout was key to Democratic victories in the 2018 and 2020 elections, but this age group is less likely than voters over 40 to participate this year. Senate Democratic candidates are mounting surprisingly strong challenges in GOP-held seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida and leading with razor-thin margins in Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona. Polling results indicate that candidates could drive up the youth vote further by embracing the landmark labor legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and focusing on lifting workers’ wages.
“As Democrats face a highly competitive 2022 election map for the Senate and House, this poll demonstrates that candidates can mobilize young voters by helping to lift workers’ wages and protect their rights,” said Guy Molyneux, Hart Research partner and senior pollster. “Young voter support for the PRO Act labor reform bill is off the charts at 85%. Even among Trump 2020 voters and conservative voters, support for labor reform is significant. With battleground Senate races a toss-up among voters over 40, this poll should be encouraging for Democrats that energizing young voters by leading on worker rights would be a game-changer this November.”
The poll found that 87% of voters under 40 ranked worker rights as one of the top issues that will motivate them to vote for Democrats in November, alongside other popular galvanizing issues such as abortion rights, climate change, and student debt.
The polling comes as Starbucks and Amazon union campaigns have sparked a national wave of worker activism and put a spotlight on the high consequences of illegal union-busting by multi-billion dollar corporations, illustrating how Democratic engagement on the issue could be the key to their party retaining or expanding control of the Senate.
“There’s a clear message in this poll,” said Jimmy Williams, General President of IUPAT. “Young workers want the protections they’d get from the PRO Act. If we want to drive young voter turnout in November, Congress needs to show action on legislation important to young voters.”
The poll, conducted by Hart Research, surveyed 1,502 likely voters – including 822 young voters aged 18-39 – in the 2022 battleground states of Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The survey has a credibility interval (which is similar to a margin of error) of +/-3.0% for all voters, and +/-3.5% for young voters.
The survey shows that support for the PRO Act cuts across party lines even in the tightest toss-up races in the country – a sign that a fall vote on the popular legislation could provide much-needed headwinds for vulnerable Democrats in swing states and districts.
Young workers are driving a trend of historically high support for unions, with Gallup recently reporting 71% of Americans support labor unions, the highest level in nearly 60 years.
“Now more than ever, young workers see unions as their best shot at higher wages and better working conditions, but until we pass the Protecting the Right To Organize Act, they are up against employers who are retaliating with impunity,” said Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “If young workers are going to turn out and vote for Democrats, they need evidence beyond just words of support that candidates are on their side. A Senate vote to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act will prove that Democrats mean what they say when it comes to workers rights.”
Today’s new Worker Power Coalition 2022 battleground states poll highlights a wide range of key findings on young voters less than two months before the midterm election:
Democrats hold narrow lead across 2022 battleground states, but voters under 40 are key to their lead
- Across the surveyed states, Democratic candidates lead 48%-42% in Senate races
- The Democratic lead is fueled by a 28-point lead among voters under 40; GOP candidates hold a narrow 3-point edge among voters over 40
- Despite the Democratic lead, there is a 9-point Republican advantage among Party ID
- 89% of young voters say they are likely to vote in the 2022 midterm election
Worker rights are an issue key to galvanizing turnout from voters under 40 in 2022
- 87% of young voters say they are more likely to support a Congressional candidate who supports strong legal protections for workers’ rights
- 77% of young voters prefer a pro-union candidate over an anti-union candidate
Young voter turnout could be shored up more by action from Senate on the PRO Act labor reform legislation in Congress
- 69% of voters across all age groups support the PRO Act labor reform bill
- 85% of young voters support the PRO Act, which would:
- protect workers’ right to speak out about low wages, unsafe conditions, or other problems in the workplace, without intimidation or retaliation from their employer. It would also strengthen workers’ ability to form a union in their workplace to negotiate for better pay and benefits, safety protections, schedules, and other conditions
- 64% of young voters say if a Democrat supports the PRO Act, they are more likely to vote for them over a Republican who opposes the PRO Act
- After hearing about Democrats who support the PRO Act:
- Young voter trust in Democrats’ on worker rights surged to 63%, up from 54%
- Young voter trust in Democrats’ on ensuring wages and salaries keep up with the cost of living surged to 57%, up from 49%
Young Voters on Unions and Worker Rights
- 82% of young voters support workers negotiating as a group with their employer over pay, benefits, and working conditions
- 80% of young voters approve of labor unions
- 78% of young voters are more likely to support a Democrat who wants to strengthen protections for workers who speak out about low wages, unsafe conditions, or other concerns on the job from retaliation by their employer
- 71% of young voters are more likely to support a Democrat who wants to increase penalties on companies that illegally fire employees for union activity
- 70% of young voters support the 2022 surge in workers unionizing
- 68% of young voters would strongly support a Democrat who says workers should not be punished for coming together to speak up for their rights
- 65% of young voters are more likely to support a Democrat who wants to end tax breaks that companies receive for expenses related to union-busting
Republicans Lose Youth Vote on Worker Rights
- 62% of young voters are less likely to support a Republican who wants to allow employers to retaliate against workers who speak out about low wages, unsafe conditions, or other concerns on the job
- 62% of young voters are less likely to support a Republican who opposes protections for workers who speak out about low wages, unsafe conditions, or other concerns on the job from retaliation by their employer
The Worker Power Coalition represents 24 million workers across the country and unites labor unions, grassroots organizations, businesses, worker advocates, think tanks, environmental activists, and more with the goal of strengthening labor laws, including passing the PRO Act to empower workers, strengthen their workplace protections, and increase their ability to use their voices collectively. Learn more at PassThePROAct.Org.