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Shows & Panels
Purple state feds
Monday - 11/5/2012, 2:00am EST
Many believe the election will be decided by swing-state voters: Places like Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and maybe Iowa. The conventional wisdom is that Ohio is the jewel in the crown, the must-win state. Given their travel schedules, the candidates and their planners seem to agree. Either that or they sure like the fast food in Cleveland.
Those so-called swing states share a common language (with varying accents) with their neighbors and each other. But in many ways, they are also very different geographically and in make-up from the others. One thing they have in common is a significant number of well-educated, well-paid eligible voters, all of whom have jobs. As a percentage of the population, this group is substantial.
Pollsters, who typically question 1,000 or fewer people to get their results, have focused on what they consider key groups by sex, race, ethnicity and sometimes religion. One NPR poll focused on 466 people. Some poll people randomly. Others go with those who say they are likely to vote.
Whether they are dead right or whistlin' in the dark, the pros as usual have left out out one key group of well-educated, well-paid, strategically located group of people:
Because of the nature of the workforce, most nonpostal federal workers are professional, technical or administrative. Uncle Sam doesn't do retail. There is no equivalent to Wal-Mart or McDonald's in government. Slightly more than half of private-sector employees have some college education compared to 74 percent in the federal government, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
Virginia (147,000-plus federal employees) , Florida (90,100) and Ohio (53,500) rank among the top ten states in numbers of federal employees. The others are California, Texas, Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Washington. If Pennsylvania is thrown into the toss-up column, its 70,000 feds — if they vote alike — could make the difference. In fact, they could in many states where it is statistically too close to call.
On Thursday, one above-the-fold lead story was headlined "GOP sees new hope in 3 states" adding that they were Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, states with federal employees numbering 69,000; 30,400 and 18,300, respectively. Not a huge number but...
Despite the best efforts of several generations of federal and postal union leaders, there is no evidence that the majority of federal workers — or retirees — automatically favor one party or candidate over another. Union members tend to support Democratic candidates. But the vast majority of feds don't belong to unions.
For politicians who claim to want a smart, educated electorate — and many are not looking for that group — it is hard to beat the federal family. It is diverse, well-paid, fully employed, well-trained and highly educated. All of the working G-men and women are old enough to vote, and they fit the demographics of people who are most likely to vote. Feds represent a cross- section of the nation (only Hispanics are underrepresented in the federal workforce). Retired federal workers are found in large numbers in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Florida, Texas and California.
While there is no fed vote (perhaps a good thing), civil servants, as likely voters, do have the numbers to make a difference in purple states, where the winning margin is razor thin. Remember Florida in 2000 when 537 votes (out of more than more than 5 million cast) won the day. And the election.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
Vigo County, Ind., has correctly picked the winner of every presidential election since 1956, often within 3 percent of the popular vote, according to Cracked.com.
So, forget Ohio — so goes Vigo County...
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