NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Campaigning in Iowa has Changed Forever

January 26, 2004

One of the more remarkable results of last Monday's Iowa caucuses was the utter collapse of Congressman Dick Gephardt, who won the caucuses in 1988. The political clout of organized labor also took a hit. There may be larger political implications from this result, says Bruce Bartlett.

  • When Gephardt won Iowa in 1988, there were 168,441 union members in the state, 14.6 percent of all employed workers.
  • Of these, 72,889 or 43 percent were employed in manufacturing.
  • Two-thirds of all Iowa's union members were employed in the private sector, one-third in the public sector.
  • Private sector union membership has fallen by 22,025 and manufacturing accounts for more than 20,000 of that figure.
  • Union membership in manufacturing is down by 28 percent since 1988.
  • Because public sector unionization and jobs have continued to rise, public sector workers now account for 42 percent of Iowa's union membership.

This trend shows up in the national data as well. According to figures just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall union membership has fallen to a new low of 12.9 percent of employment, down from 13.3 percent last year.

It is too soon to say whether the Iowa results will be replicated in New Hampshire and other primary states. But it is a sure bet that campaigning in Iowa has changed forever. No longer can we assume that the candidate with the strongest union support will be the prohibitive favorite in the caucuses, says Bartlett.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Campaigning in Iowa has changed forever," National Center for Policy Analysis, January 26, 2004.


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