But do ordinary teachers really favor Democrats so exclusively? Exit polls don't normally ask if voters are teachers. But the General Social Survey, which has tracked the opinions of Americans for four decades, does ask detailed occupational questions. And according to an analysis of the GSS database by the blog The Audacious Epigone, in presidential elections dating back to 1972 teachers have favored Democratic candidates by just 50 percent to 44 for Republicans (with the rest voting for third party candidates).
Unions also sometimes spend member money on social causes contrary to many
members' own political leanings. California
unions donated more than $2 million--including $1 million from the California
Teachers Association--to a campaign in 2008 to defeat Proposition 8, the successful
state initiative that defined marriage as an act between a man and a woman. But exit polls found that 56 percent of union members in the Golden State voted for the initiative and against the way their union leaders went with their money.
The 40 percent or more of NEA members likely to vote for someone other than the NEA leadership's choice can be forgiven for feeling disenfranchised by a union that never swings any way but Democratic.