Friday, October 10, 2014

Raising the floor: The political inevitability

The political inevitability

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour (or close to that amount) is inevitable. The question is just a matter of when.  In a poll released in March of 2014 by ABC News/Washington Post, 50% of Americans stated that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported raising the minimum wage.  Nearly every poll conducted on the issue shows overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage.   Just a quick rundown on some nationwide polls: Bloomberg found that 69% of Americans favored raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years.   In June, CNN found that 71% of Americans favored an increase in the federal minimum wage and the New York Times found in September of 2014 that 70% of Americans supported raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Support for raising the minimum wage hovers around 70%.  The only poll asking respondents what the minimum wage should be raised to, the CNN poll, found that 52% of Americans supported raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour or higher.  19% favored raising the minimum wage but to less than $10.10 per hour.

The polls also indicate what talking points will be used to lower this support.  The Bloomberg poll misrepresented the CBO report and stated that only 16.5 million Americans will see their incomes increase while 500,000 jobs would be eliminated.  Both of these are misrepresentations as we will discuss later.  57% of Americans found this tradeoff to be unacceptable.  This is not surprising since both of the statements are incorrect.   As long as you focus on the total number of jobs lost and lie about who will see their incomes increase, people will not support raising the minimum wage. 
We see that the vast majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage, who does not support raising the minimum wage?  To answer this question, I looked at cross-tabs for 10 statewide polls from Public Policy Polling (PPP).  The nine states that I looked at were Connecticut, Louisiana, Kansas, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Minnesota.  PPP asked if voters would support or oppose a raise in the minimum wage to $10/hour.  I looked at the percentage that stated they opposed the minimum wage.  Then I looked at the percentage of each of the cross tabs that opposed the minimum wage hike.  I subtracted those in the cross tab from the overall percentage who opposed the minimum wage hike.  

If there is a negative in the column it means that there are less people in that cross tab who oppose the minimum wage hike. 
State
Female
Male
Connecticut
-6
7
Louisiana
-8
9
Kansas
-9
10
Florida
-6
8
North Carolina
-7
8
Michigan
-5
6
Kentucky
-8
8
Mississippi
-8
11
Minnesota
-7
7
Average
-7.1
8.2

So on average, women were less likely to oppose a minimum wage hike and men were more likely to oppose the minimum wage hike.  Women are more likely to be making minimum wage (or close to minimum wage) than men.  Next table is by political party. 

Note: Independent also means other in this table
State
Democrat
Republican
Independent
Connecticut
-21
24
9
Louisiana
-23
25
2
Kansas
-22
15
-9
Florida
-14
18
-4
North Carolina
-19
23
3
Michigan
-24
24
6
Kentucky
-15
20
-2
Mississippi
-28
24
4
Minnesota
-26
29
4
Average
-21.3
22.4
1.4

Not even close to surprising is that Republicans are much more likely to oppose a minimum wage hike.  It also gives the appearance that the minimum wage hike is largely a partisan issue. 
The next table was going to be a table looking at racial demographics.  Unfortunately, due to choosing less racially diverse states such as Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, and Minnesota PPP lumped racial categories together into an “other” category which makes crossracial comparisons not as accurate.  Whites are more likely to oppose a minimum wage hike at 5.3, meaning that in the average state, whites opposed a minimum wage hike by 5 percentage points above how the state felt.  Blacks opposed the minimum wage hike at about the rate as Democrats (meaning almost none at all).

The last table is an age comparison:
State
18-29
30-45
46-65
65+
Connecticut
-14
4
-1
3
Louisiana
-10
2
0
2
Kansas
-12
5
1
-3
Florida
-15
-4
7
3
North Carolina
-5
-1
3
-2
Michigan
-4
4
1
-2
Kentucky
-3
2
1
-3
Mississippi
-14
-3
0
12
Minnesota
3
5
-2
-8
Average
-8.2
1.6
1.1
0.2

Younger voters are less likely to oppose a minimum wage hike.  This is not surprising but gives us another opportunity to show how millenials are changing politics.  If we take out the outlier in Mississippi, we see that senior citizens are less likely to oppose a minimum wage hike, as well, although it is only by 1.25 points.  Although if you take out Minnesota, as well, it is essentially zero for senior citizens


After looking at the data, those who oppose a minimum wage hike are primarily white, male, Republicans between the ages of 30-65.  The strongest correlation between opposing a minimum wage hike, though, is political party (it would then be followed by race), then gender, then age.   

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