Discussion about voter participation has focused on how to improve turnout and member engagement. One starting point in that discussion is to look at how and why one slate did almost twice as well at turnout—and that fact helps explain the blow-out vote margin in the Teamsters United slate to victory.
The Two Slates and Two Turnouts
One reason for the landslide can be summed up in the word “turnout” because generally the O’Brien candidates are better at engaging members—and at turning out voters.
This chart gives the facts. It shows that in the locals led by Teamsters United candidates, overall voter turnout was 74.6% higher. The average turnout among the 165,000 members in locals led by TP candidates was 13%, while the average turnout among the 171,000 members in locals led by OZ candidates was 23%. The OZ candidates average turnout was nearly twice as high as the TP candidates.
This helps explain the landslide win. The Teamsters United leaders know how to engage members, and among the people who know them best, their turnout was nearly twice as high.
It also shows that, among those 337,000 Teamsters who know the candidates close-up in their own locals, the Teamsters United candidates got 91.0% of the vote, and the Teamster Power candidates got just 65.7% in their home locals; three of their candidates actually lost the vote in their home local.
So the OZ candidates’ home locals turned out in much bigger numbers, and also gave them a much higher percentage vote. In all the TP-led locals together, they only gained a winning margin 6761 votes. In the OZ-led locals, they racked up a winning margin of 36,857, just in their own locals.
So, it was a landslide because Vairma’s more-of-the-same message didn’t attract members, even in their own locals. And most of their candidates don’t have a clue about how to involve members; in fact, they prefer passive members.
The issue of involving members in our union is a very real challenge for the future. At least we know one thing: we elected some new leaders who have a commitment to take it on.