Poll: Strong support for raising wages in Wisconsin, other battleground states

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A new poll found that nearly 60 percent of voters in the 2014 battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are dissatisfied with their state’s economy.

The survey by Hart Research Associates found that 91 percent of respondents in those states — with battleground contests for governor — say that they are falling behind economically or just keeping even.

By an overwhelming 72-23 margin, voters are asserting that raising wages is “good for the state” and soundly reject the notion that a hike in the minimum wage would hurt their state by increasing prices or costing jobs.

The poll, released on Feb. 19 by the AFL-CIO, concluded that "candidates have a lot to gain by making wages a central element in their economic agenda and campaign messages." 

“Voters are way ahead of politicians on the issue of raising wages,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “From the minimum wage to paid sick leave to wage theft, voters across America are elevating basic paycheck issues to a new national prominence. Politicians who ignore the surging interest in raising wages do so at their own peril.”

The AFL-CIO executive council is meeting in Houston and has made the issue of raising wages a centerpiece of its work, according to a news release.

Details of the poll:

• Sixty-four percent of women are dissatisfied with the economy in their state, including 68 percent of unmarried women and 59 percent of Republican women.

• Sixty-two percent of battleground voters report that their income is falling behind the cost of living and just 6 percent say it is rising faster than costs.

• Voters with household incomes under $50,000, who comprise about half of the electorate, are deeply unhappy with the state of the economy.

• Republicans are divided along class lines: Sixty-four percent GOP voters earning under $50,000 are dissatisfied with the economy, while 41 percent those earning over $50,000 are not. Democrats are dissatisfied regardless of income.

• Sixty-one percent of voters feel that it should be an important priority for the governor and legislature to “make sure that people are paid enough to support their families.” This is a far higher priority for voters than conservatives’ priority of reducing tax rates (42 percent), and just as important as reducing government spending (60 percent).

• The issue of wages could drive a wedge through the GOP political coalition. Just 35 percent of Republicans earning more than $50,000 feel that this is a priority, but among Republicans earning less than $50,000, 67 percent say it is extremely important.

• The minimum-wage issue may well help Democrats improve turnout in 2014, a weakness when the GOP governors were elected in 2010. About 55 percent of voters say their interest in voting this year would rise if turning out meant they would have the chance to help defeat a candidate who opposes raising the minimum wage. The percentage rises to 63 for voters with incomes less than $50,000. 

“America’s attention is more focused on workers, wages and fairness than ever in my lifetime,” Trumka said. “Behind this energy and commitment, the possibilities are enormous for working people.”