By Patricia Zengerle
LAS VEGAS | Wed Aug 1, 2012
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made history in his 2008 election victory as the first black U.S. president, but he risks achieving another, less welcome, first if he wins again in November.
Obama is on course to become the candidate with the lowest support from white male working class voters to win a U.S. election if he triumphs over Republican Mitt Romney on November 6.
Polls show support for Obama from white males without college degrees at under 30 percent, well below the 39 percent he had when he defeated Republican John McCain four years ago. While he has overwhelming support from Hispanics and blacks and does well among women, the Democratic president needs to shore up his backing among those men.
Richard Trumka, the most powerful U.S. union leader and an important bridge between the White House and blue-collar America, sees two solutions to Obama’s problems: mount labor’s largest voter outreach effort ever, and keep up the attacks on Romney’s business record.
“We’re absolutely going to do good work on the ground, mobilizing workers. We will have 400,000 volunteers this cycle,” Trumka, a former coal miner who is president of the 12-million-member AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, told Reuters.
“We’ll be involved in 32 battleground states, up and down the ballot from Barack Obama, the House races, the Senate races, the state house and senate races,” he said.
The union’s main focus will be six states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida – where polls show the presidential race is close. In the 2008 election, more than 250,000 union volunteers took to the streets.