Raising The Minimum Wage Would Have Been A Popular Move, Polls Show

Support for increasing the minimum wage to $15 was near-universal among Democrats.
Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the Capitol complex on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, to call on Congress to pass the $15 federal minimum wage hike proposed as part of the COVID relief bill.
Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the Capitol complex on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, to call on Congress to pass the $15 federal minimum wage hike proposed as part of the COVID relief bill.
Bill Clark via Getty Images

Slightly above half of Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage to $15, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. Fifty-two percent support the move, according to the poll, with 35% opposed and the rest uncertain.

The proposal fared less well in the Senate this week, where a majority ― including eight Democrats ― effectively killed an amendment to the coronavirus relief bill that would have raised the current $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $15 over five years.

Several other recent polls on the proposed $15 hike have found similar or broader support. A Politico/Morning Consult survey of registered voters and an Ipsos/Reuters poll of adults both put support at around 60%, while a new Monmouth University poll came in at 53%, with 45% opposed.

In the HuffPost/YouGov poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday, an 85% majority of Democrats say they back an increase, with just 7% opposed. Republicans are opposed, 68% to 18%.

There’s similar polarization when Americans are asked to choose between two competing arguments on the likely effects of a minimum wage hike. Roughly three-quarters of Republicans say doing so would more likely hurt workers by causing businesses to hire fewer people, while 72% of Democrats say it would more likely help workers by giving them greater income. Opinion as a whole is split about evenly between these views.

By contrast, there’s a smaller economic divide: 59% of people in households making under $50,000 annually say they support an increase to $15, compared to 46% in higher-earning households.

Slightly over one-fifth of Americans, 22%, say they believe raising the minimum wage to $15 would directly help them and their family, with the rest predicting they’d be unaffected (39%) or hurt (25%), or saying they’re not sure.

Even though the question asks about personal ramifications rather than political preference, the answers are still clearly filtered through a layer of partisanship. Democrats making less than $50,000 a year are roughly 29 percentage points likelier than Republicans in the same income bracket to predict they’d be helped by a minimum wage increase. Republicans making $50,000 or more are 54 points more likely than Democrats in the same range to say they’d be negatively affected.

A lack of perceived personal stakes doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t have strong feelings about the issue. Sixty percent of Americans who favor a $15 minimum wage say it’s very important to them that Congress works to make that happen ― including 69% of supporters who expect they’d be helped by the measure and a 56% majority of supporters who don’t think they’d be personally affected. On the opposing side, 61% of those oppose raising the minimum wage say it’s very important to them that Congress doesn’t do so.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 1-3 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.