President Obama has a rough relationship with unions these days, but they might appreciate his decision to visit Wisconsin in the middle of Republican governor Scott Walker’s reelection campaign.
Obama will speak at Laborfest 2014 in Milwaukee on Monday. The president is trying to travel to places where he still has a chance of doing some good for Democratic candidates. “The White House is putting the finishing touches on a post–Labor Day schedule that will send the president to states where he’s still popular, such as: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, Obama officials and Democratic operatives said this week,” according to Politico.
The president frustrated labor allies when he refused to campaign against Walker during the 2012 recall race.
“I’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” Obama said as an excuse for his failure to appear on the stump for Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, who was challenging Walker.
Obama’s willingness to campaign on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke could be a sign that they believe Walker is more vulnerable this time around than during the recall race. Walker won the recall by almost seven points, but a poll from Marquette University has him trailing by two points among likely voters, but winning by three among registered voters. That’s an odd result, because “Republican candidates typically poll better among likely voters, particularly in midterm elections when Democratic-leaning constituencies are less likely to turn out,” as FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten notes.
Or maybe the president is more willing to risk backing a losing candidate because he’s not on the ballot himself. In any case, he should take some time to mend fences with the unions at Laborfest.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said that his organization won’t back a presidential candidate who keeps Obama’s economic team. “One of our biggest concerns is who is the candidate’s economic team, because if the present economic team doesn’t change, you are going get the same results,” he said, per the Washington Times.