POLITICS
03/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Coakley Could Have Won If Unions Had Gone In Sooner: Study

Democrats could have held the Massachusetts Senate seat if the AFL-CIO and others had been asked to mobilize voters sooner, suggest new polling numbers compiled by the union conglomerate.

Data points provided independently to the Huffington Post show that union voters in Massachusetts were 15 percentage points more likely to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley if they simply had been asked. The problem was, unions weren't really operating on the ground until the final days.

Coakley ultimately lost the labor vote to Scott Brown by a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent, according to the AFL-CIO's data. More surprising, however, was the explanation as to why union members voted the way they did. According to the data:

"Coakley won union voters who had heard from their union by 10 points, while losing those who said they had not heard from their union by 5 points."

Had unions been able to reach more people, and moved the vote breakdown to 60 percent for Coakley, 40 percent for Brown, "Coakley would have won the race by 2 points," the study concludes. (Union households usually vote 65-35 in favor of the endorsed candidate, the survey also notes.)

Skeptics could argue that the problem wasn't a lag in Big Labor's "get out the vote" operations, but rather the lack of enthusiasm that workers had for the Democratic Party. Indeed, another takeaway from the AFL-CIO's data is that the working class simply revolted during this election.

But the dissatisfied union voter was at the very least persuadable. The internal AFL-CIO polling noted that "the union vote moved toward Coakley by at least 5 points over the last week [when unions were on the ground], while her position with non union voters deteriorated further over that time period." In short: had they been reached, union members would have voted for Coakley. The problem was, not enough were reached in time.

"Union members can't be taken for granted," said a labor source who confirmed the statistics. And in Massachusetts, "we weren't called in to the emergency till the end."