DES MOINES — Supporting an increase in the minimum wage can be a winning strategy for Republican candidates, new polling suggests.
Fewer than 13 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa and primary voters in New Hampshire — the first states to kick off the presidential election process — oppose a federal minimum-wage increase, the polls say. And nearly two-thirds of likely general-election voters of all parties in key swing states said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the wage.
The polls were conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, which has done polling for dozens of Republican candidates and organizations, and the results were published by Oxfam America, a non-profit organization that, according to a news release, works to address poverty, hunger and injustice.
“Being open to reasonable increases in the federal minimum wage can help 2016 candidates, Republicans as well as Democrats, appeal to voters,” pollster John McLaughlin said in his analysis.
Iowa’s minimum wage — $7.25 an hour — was last raised in 2007 and mirrors the federal threshold.
But Johnson County is on a fast track to become the only county in the state to increase the minimum wage locally. giving two of three necessary approvals — both of them unanimous — for raising the minimum wage in phases to $10.10 an hour by 2017.
Based on what the polls found, McLaughlin said, candidates whose economic plans include a minimum-wage increase could retain their base and reach new supporters, “while not alienating a significant number of swing state general election voters.”
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According to the polls, 87 percent of swing-state, general-election voters support at least one proposal to raise the federal minimum — to $9, $10, $12 or $15 — as do a majority of Iowa GOP caucus and New Hampshire GOP primary voters.
Roughly 41 percent of likely general-election voters said an increase would help improve the financial standing of a family member.
“If Republicans want to broaden our coalition and attract more voters, we need to support policy that shows that we care about working-class people,” Henry Barbour, Mississippi’s elected member of the Republican National Committee, said in a news release. “GOP leaders should be open-minded about policy to help a working mom with two jobs and two kids get more than $7.25 per hour.”
Among 2016 Republican presidential candidates, most have stated an opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage. Only Rick Santorum has supported a modest increase.
The Democratic presidential candidates have supported increasing the federal minimum wage.
“Six years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage, American families are hurting,” Jeffrey Buchanan, senior domestic policy adviser at Oxfam America, said in a statement. “With tens of millions voters feeling the impact of wage stagnation, it makes political, economic and moral sense for all 2016 candidates to support a reasonable increase in the minimum wage.”
For the polls, McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 400 likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa and 400 likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire from Aug. 13-16. The margin of error is 4.9 percentage points.
The group also surveyed 805 likely general-election voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia from Aug. 13-18. The margin of error is 3.4 percentage points.