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NEA’s unprecedented campaign for a better future

Largest labor union’s get out the vote efforts help secure victories for public education


WASHINGTON - November 04, 2008 -

The National Education Association, the nation's largest labor organization with 3.2 million members, demonstrated its size and influence in this year's election by engaging millions of members in every state and every congressional district. NEA spearheaded an unprecedented effort to mobilize its members and their families to elect friends of public education at the national, state and local levels.

NEA members are poised to make a significant difference in today's election. How NEA members and their families are voting should indicate the outcome of races across the country.

NEA members live in every precinct, county, congressional district and state, representing one in every 100 Americans.  Given NEA's unique demographic makeup—including 1.8 million women living in small towns, suburbs and rural areas—NEA members are the typical swing voter of the 2008 election. Polling has indicated year after year that teachers are some of the most trusted and respected opinion leaders and messengers.

"NEA members and their families across the country teamed up to support working families in this election," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  "The loss of jobs throughout the country has a profound influence on education within our communities. The loss of a tax base puts severe limits on revenue to fund education. American voters are showing they are worried about the economy, health care, energy costs, the housing crisis, crime and the war in Iraq. All of these issues share a common bond—education. Getting our country back on track starts with renewing our commitment to public schools."

The cornerstone of any long-term economic recovery plan must be an investment in public education. That means adequate resources for our schools and competitive salaries for our educators.   Sen. Barack Obama understands this.  He ranks quality public schools and affordable higher education among his top three national priorities. 

Hundreds of thousands of education voters and their families took advantage of early voting according to an NEA survey. In the swing states of Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, an unprecedented 60 percent of NEA members and their families cast their ballots before Election Day. Other critical states like New Mexico, Ohio, Florida and  Michigan reported impressive early voting results as well.

NEA has been preparing for the 2008 election since the 2006 midterm elections, which resulted in major victories for quality public education.  For the past year, NEA has been organizing its members throughout the country and educating them about the importance of supporting friends of working families and public education in this year's election. Labor will hopefully enjoy the victory that has eluded it in the past two presidential elections with millions of NEA members and their families giving Senator Obama the critical lift he needs.

"NEA played a crucial role in educating and engaging millions of union members and their families about what's at stake for working families in this election," said Van Roekel. "This engaged and mobilized union vote will make a difference in the presidential election as well as many state and local elections."

Historically, union members are more likely to vote than nonunion members. NEA members have been reliable voters. In the 2004 and 2006 elections, 86 percent and 71 percent of NEA members turned out to vote, respectively. In contrast, 60.7 percent and 40 percent of Americans of voting age went to the polls, in those elections, respectively.

NEA has employed multifaceted, personalized communication tools based on sophisticated micro-targeting models. Recognizing from previous years that its members do not vote solely on education issues, the Association crafted targeted communications to address the economic and top-line concerns of its diverse membership. In addition to traditional phone banking and canvassing operations, NEA communicated targeted messages to different segments of its membership through Web sites, emails, and blogs. NEA also made independent communications to the general public in Colorado, North Carolina and Washington, via radio and television paid for by the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education, NEA’s member-funded political action committee.

NEA and its affiliates:

  • Distributed more than 21.3 million pieces of mail
  • Made more than 2.1 million phone calls
  • Sent more than 1.3 million emails to members in battleground states
  • Began defining John McCain in the spring, sending 5 million pieces of mail before Labor Day.

NEA has been actively engaged in targeted races throughout the country, including in 15 presidential battleground states, 11 Senate races, 54 congressional races, four gubernatorial races, and 20 ballot initiatives.

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing
to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser (202) 822-7259