Labor Day is now a key to Election Day for Democrats and Republicans alike

Labor Day, originally a celebration of workers and their causes, is now seen as a critical time in the political calendar for both Democrats and Republicans, particularly when appealing to working-class voters.

Historical significance: Labor Day was first celebrated in New York City in 1882 amid a time when labor activism was often illegal and dangerous.
* The holiday became the American version of May Day or International Labor Day and for the major U.S. political parties, it also marked the unofficial start for fall election campaigns.

Political shifts: Originally, Labor Day activities were primarily Democratic affairs, but the Democratic party has seen a shift from its traditional geographic and demographic bases over recent decades.
* Many working-class voters began drifting away from the Democrats after World War II, a trend that continued during the economic expansion and relative affluence that followed.
* Many of these voters turned to Richard Nixon in the 1968 and 1972 elections, and to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Similar trends were seen in 2016 and 2020 with the election and re-election attempts of Donald Trump.

Current status: Nowadays, the parties are competing for the votes and loyalties of working-class voters without college degrees, a group that has become the main demographic battleground in U.S. elections.
* Donald Trump won the support of workers with less than a college degree in both 2016 and 2020 by significant margins. However, Joe Biden saw a critical improvement in this demographic in 2020 compared to 2016, particularly in swing states.
* Looking ahead, both parties continue to strive for the support of working people, with both Democrats and Republicans making efforts to gain their favor.

Administration’s efforts: The Biden administration has recently introduced labor-friendly measures such as proposing a new rule to make 3.6 million more U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay and restocking the National Labor Relations Board with Democratic-majority appointees.
* The Republican party continues to appeal to working-class voters, adopting a more populist tone in many of its events.

View original article on NPR

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