Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Two voting blocs and their impact on Keystone State primary.

In Pennsylvania, labor leaders successfully persuaded industrial workers that Walter F. Mondale is the man who can restore jobs and curb imports. Union voters , who turned out in large numbers, were a big factor in his impressive primary victory Tuesday.

The results continued a voting trend that has become apparent over seven weeks of state primaries and caucuses:

About these ads

Mr. Mondale, with labor backing, is strongest where unemployment is an everyday worry among industrial workers. His principal opponent, Gary Hart of Colorado, is most impressive where factory jobs are less of an issue.

Senator Hart, who started the race for the Democratic presidential nomination as a very dark horse, startled AFL and CIO unions with his stunning upset victory in New Hampshire and his later wins in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Organized labor intensified its campaigning for Mondale and helped put the former vice-president's political drive back on track in the South, where he made impressive gains in areas with unemployment problems and union strength.

Mondale forged back ahead in New York, Michigan, and Illinois, and, this week , Pennsylvania, capitalizing on strong labor backing.

In Pennsylvania, Mondale picked up slightly more than 50 percent of the votes cast by those in union households.

Senator Hart received an estimated 30 percent of the labor votes; Jesse Jackson got 17 percent. Pennsylvania is strongly unionized, with 1.2 million union members - including tightly organized steelworkers and miners, groups with high unemployment.

Labor campaigned intensively in New York, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, emphasizing job needs and the threat of imports to domestic industry. Union efforts helped Mondale swamp Hart in Pennsylvania's northeastern and western counties, the steel- and coal-producing areas.

Hart was strongest in more affluent areas, where he had support from a reported 45 percent of voters in nonunion households. Among this group, Mondale had 36 percent of the vote and the Rev. Mr. Jackson got 17 percent.

About these ads

The figures underscore the importance of unions to Mondale. While labor cannot claim to deliver a monolithic vote, with certain issues it can turn out substantial voting strength. Current issues that are getting attention from trade unionists are jobs, the heavy toll imports are taking in steel, auto, and other industrial work forces, and Hart's failure to support federal aid for Chrysler when the company faced bankruptcy.

The Pennsylvania primary ended the first phase of the Democratic presidential contest with Mondale well in the lead.

However, the campaign is far from over. When election season began with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 20, many political experts - including some of labor's - expected the former vice-president to be far enough ahead by now to have wrapped up the nomination. The surprising strength shown by Hart and Jackson makes it appear now that the nomination will not be settled conclusively before the Democrats convene in San Francisco.

After a three-week lull in major contests, seven state primaries and two state caucuses will be held over a two-week period in states with a total of 920 delegates. The biggest states will be in Texas caucuses May 5, to choose 169 of the state's 200 delegates, and a primary in Ohio May 8 to name 154 of the state's 175 delegates. Other primaries involving smaller numbers of delegates will be held in Tennessee, Louisiana, Indiana, North Carolina, Maryland, Nebraska, and Oregon, and there will also be caucuses in Colorado.

Labor is not as strong in these states and, in a number of them, many voters appear alienated from labor because of its strong pro-Mondale position.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.