Freelancers are the Swing Vote Nobody’s Talking About

With the 2016 Presidential run looming, there’s a group of unnoticed voters that could help determine which candidates make it, and which don’t.

By Brenda SalinasJune 8, 2015 7:17 am

In the 2016 Presidential election, pundits have said over and over, the politico that can mobilize the 25 million voting-eligible Latinos will win the top job. But there’s a class of voters double that size that usually goes ignored: Freelancers, people who work without having a long-term gig. Sara Horowitz, the founder and director of the Freelancer’s Union, joins the Texas Standard for more.

“There are 53 million freelancers across the country,” Horowitz says. “They’re really in every city, in every state. The Freelancer’s Union has over 250,000 members and about 6,500 of them are in Texas.”

Horowitz says if a politician could mobilize the freelance workforce, it could be a game-changer.

“In [President Franklin] Roosevelt’s time we understood that that group – the workers in auto, in steel, in tire and rubber, etc. – they were the ones who were the game-changers in the 1930s and brought about the New Deal. Now, just like them, we have a new way of working and this group is big and is easily connected,” Horowitz says. “Their issues and policies haven’t been put to the forefront. But I think once somebody started really focusing on this group they would have a lot of people who would be listening, interested. In all these tight races across the country and nationally I think they’re gonna be the ones to start changing elections.”

What are the issues and policies freelancers care the most about? Horowitz says double-taxation, financial service industry charges and unemployment health insurance are some of the main ones.

As far as who would be in the lead for the freelancer primary? She says no one yet.

“It’s shocking how both the Democrats and Republicans don’t get it,” Horowitz says. “[Democrats] are often focused on the most vulnerable workers, as they should, but the next step is to be imaginative about the future. I think that we have to start to see a freelancer agenda and we’re not seeing that on the democratic side.”

What about the Republicans? “They’re actually a little bit better in a funny way,” she says. “At least they recognize that this is happening and it’s the future…. But then it’s really the same old kind of ‘let’s just let the market take care of it’ and really freelancers are no different from other workers. They’re really seeing their money–their wages–decline. They can’t consume. They can’t plan for the future. Interestingly though, between 85 and 88 percent say they’d never go back. Really what freelancers want from both the Democrats and Republicans is to help them build their tomorrow.”