President Barack Obama is betting his 2014 campaign on polling data that shows strong public support for a higher minimum wage.
He’s repeatedly pushed the issue in his speeches, and he’s flying into Connecticut Wednesday to tout his proposed increase from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, while four Democratic governors provide a back-up chorus for him and the TV cameras.
“Anyone who works full time should not have to raise their family in poverty,” Gene Sperling, the outgoing director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told reporters. “The minimum wage today is about what it was, in real terms, about 50 years ago,” he said.
“There’s an overwhelming amount of support all over this country for raising it,” said Maine Democrat Mike Michaud, who joined Sperling in the press event.
But support for the minimum-wage increase is soft, say critics.
Voters turn away from the gift when they’re told about the hidden costs, said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute.
“If you ask people what the Democrats ask… people broadly say ‘yes’ to an increase,” Saltsman told TheDC. “But when you ask them about some of the other arguments [such as lost jobs]… it tends to drive down support pretty dramatically.”
His group is already buying ads on Fox News and MSNBC to undermine support for Obama’s push.
But Democrats see the issue as a three-fer that also boosts turnout by women, African-Americans and Latinos.
Women are especially supportive of the proposed raise because they comprise 60 percent of minimum wage workers, Connecticut Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty told the reporters. “When women succeed, America succeeds,” she said.