Why Dems are winning on minimum wage

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from Politico,

For Republicans this year, the minimum wage is the wedge issue from hell.

Even as Democrats lurch toward a potentially disastrous midterm election, support for raising the federal minimum wage is resonating with voters. In fact, it may be the only issue on which Democrats are winning: A Pew Research Center poll earlier this year found 90 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans favored raising the federal minimum to $10.10 from its current $7.25, as proposed by President Barack Obama.

Four Republican-leaning states have state-level minimum wage increases on the ballot this year — Alaska ($9.75), Arkansas ($8.50), Nebraska ($9), and South Dakota ($8.50) — and the increases will likely pass in all four. The same goes for a non-binding Illinois referendum on raising the minimum wage to $10. Democrats anticipate these measures will boost Democratic turnout in all five states, particularly among African-Americans.

“It gives Democrats a concrete offer on what is increasingly seen as the main problem,” says Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. “Jobs that don’t pay enough to live on … people know what a struggle it is for low-wage workers.”

Republicans remain confident they’ll retake the Senate, but that’s partly because some have defused the issue by endorsing the ballot measures. As recently as January, Alaska Republican challenger Dan Sullivan said, “Raising the minimum wage isn’t an answer” even as his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Begich, backed Obama’s proposed federal increase to $10.10. By September, though, Sullivan was telling The Wall Street Journal he would vote for the Alaska increase “because it is a state-driven initiative.” Afterwards, Sullivan, who’d trailed Begich much of the summer, widened his lead by two or three points.

GOP candidates can’t always make the issue go away by switching sides,[see] Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.

Even in states that don’t have minimum wage on the ballot, opposition to an increase may put some Republicans at risk. “I think it’s playing quite successfully as a wedge issue,” says Arun Ivatury, campaign strategist for Raise the Minimum Wage, an elections arm of the nonprofit National Employment Law Project.

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