Teachers unions are struggling to protect their political clout, but as the midterm elections approach, they’re fighting back with their most popular asset: the teachers themselves.
Backed by tens of millions in cash and new data mining tools that let them personalize pitches to voters, the unions are sending armies of educators to run a huge get-out-the-vote effort aimed at reversing the red tide that swept Republicans into power across the country in 2010.
The unions have plenty of money: They spent $69 million on state races in 2010 and are likely to top that this year. But as they gear up for the most intense and focused mobilization efforts they have ever attempted, they believe it’s their members who will give them an edge. Americans may be frustrated with public schools and wary of unions, but polls still show respect and admiration for teachers.