“So much of the [minimum wage] discussion that we have here in D.C. is about the ‘economics of this’ and the ‘economics of that,’ and I think we tend to make simple things harder than they need to be,” said Judy Conti, government affairs director for the National Employment Law Project, in an interview. “Low and moderate income workers across the country know that every time the minimum wage is raised they get more money in their pockets. They don’t lose their jobs. They look at their own reality.”
The battleground district survey highlights some of this disconnect. Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates surveyed 800 likely voters across the 57 congressional districts a Democrat won by less than 15 points in 2018. Nearly all of the Democratic lawmakers who have declined to cosponsor the Raise the Wage Act hail from one of these districts.
The survey showed that 65 percent of likely voters in these districts favored raising the minimum wage. That figure includes 89 percent of Democratic voters in those districts, 55 percent of independents, and 46 percent of Republicans.
The strength of support for raising the wage also stood out: The share of voters who strongly favor the wage increase (36 percent) was greater than the total share of voters opposed (32 percent).
Voters in these districts also said that a lawmaker who voted for the minimum wage bill would be, on net, more likely to get their support in the next congressional election: 37 percent said they’d be more likely to vote for a representative who supported the wage hike, while 21 percent said they’d be more likely to oppose such a representative.
Battleground district voters also say, on net, that raising the federal minimum wage would be good for their community: 47 percent said raising the wage to $15 by 2024 would have a positive impact on their community, while 25 percent expected a negative impact.
Despite shifts in public opinion and corporate policy, in Congress, at least, the minimum wage issue remains a one-sided one: to date the Raise the Wage Act has drawn no Republican cosponsors.
The battleground survey was conducted using voter registration lists among a random sample of 800 registered voters in these districts, reached on landline (54 percent) and cell (47 percent) phones. “Likely voters” were defined as those who voted in 2016 or 2018 elections or who registered to vote since last fall’s elections.