"Not ready to make nice": The politics of identity and why union voters wanted a class champion in 2008

Monica Bielski Boris, Robert Bruno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is based on a political survey of 600 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) in three battleground states (Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) and focus group interviews with USW local leadership and activist members. The focus of the research is on assessing union member perceptions of the three top candidates from the 2008 presidential primaries (Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, and John McCain) and how these perceptions were influenced by race, class, and gender. The survey provided data on how respondents voted during the primary and on their issue positions, with particular attention to the issues they deemed most important in determining their vote. Respondents were also asked about other factors that influenced their vote, including their own demographic profile, union and work backgrounds, and their perspective on personal characteristics of the candidates. Analysis of the survey data and focus group interviews revealed that while race and gender did influence voting behavior, class identity also mattered greatly as union members demonstrated a strong preference for a partisan, working-class advocate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-115
Number of pages22
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • 2008 Presidential election
  • Identity issues
  • Union voters
  • United Steelworkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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