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How your job shapes your vote for president

A poll worker assists voters on Super Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio on March 6, 2012.

David Brancaccio: How does what you do for living shape who you are going to vote for in November? Let's do our weekly Attitude Check in association with Gallup.

Let's say good morning to Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief. Hello Frank.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Brancaccio: You've been looking at this connection between how people vote and employment category -- what did you find?

Newport: Well indeed we have, we aggregated together nearly 20,000 interviews we've done so far since mid-April where we asked people, 'who you gonna vote for?' One thing we find is, one of Obama's great areas of strength is among professional workers -- that would be lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, computer programmers. He's beating Romney by eight points among the professional class. He also does well among service workers, who tend to be unionized -- he wins well there.

But Romney has strength among managers and executive leaders of industry -- people who tell us they are business managers. Romney wins there by seven points. And finally, David, I know you'll be interested in this, two percent of Americans say they are farmers or fisherman, in that category. They swing way for Romney, so Obama shouldn't waste much time trying to go after the farm vote.

Brancaccio: But it's interesting, just on this division: professionals, doctors, lawyers, dentists prefer Obama and managers may prefer Romney. So it's not really a class argument, there is something about the work that these people do that shapes their world view.

Newport: Absolutely, very good insight. When we look at education, one of the fascinating things in the data is it is post-graduates -- that's the big dividing point. If you have a post-graduate degree you swing significantly back in favor of Barack Obama. Now that would be people who make higher incomes, so its clearly not income, but people who have post-graduate degrees -- lawyers to Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s and what have you -- tend to be more liberal in their political orientation and they are sympathetic to the democratic candidate Barack Obama. 

Brancaccio: Now you mentioned unionized workers, public employees, but what about unionized workers in general -- Obama must have them in the bag?

Newport: Well, it depends on your definition of "in the bag." But in our data, 55 to 38, 55 percent of union workers -- which is a small group of Americans nowadays -- 55 percent for Obama, 38 percent for Romney. So he clearly does well among union workers but it's not monolithic, not 100 percent by any means.

Brancaccio: Frank Newport, editor in chief of Gallup, thank you very much.

Newport: Pleasure.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.
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