One rule of journalism is never use the word 'still' in a headline because it suggests to the reader that there really is nothing new to report. Back in July, when the National Education Association endorsed President Obama for reelection before the Republicans even selected his opponent, what struck me is how little media coverage this generated. The media saw this as a 'still' story, as in, unions still supporting Democratic candidates. But I thought somewhat differently about the story because over the years I've observed what I see as a growing split between the attitudes and voting patterns of union the rank and file and their leadership.
One way to express that split is the enormous differences in the way union leadership spends members' money in political campaigns and the way union members vote. As the table I link to above suggests, the country's most powerful unions give the vast majority of their political donations to Democrats, in far greater proportion than their own members vote Democratic. When I found this post by the blogger The Audacious Epigone of teacher voting patterns, it encouraged me to write the piece which appears in the Wall Street Journal today, which also draws on other observations I've been making about the political leanings of unions vs. their members attitudes.