WASHINGTON -- Most voters heading into Tuesday's elections said they believe income inequality has grown worse in recent years and think it's important to raise the minimum wage, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Sixty-nine percent of likely voters surveyed said the gap between the rich and poor in America has grown wider in the past decade, while only 24 percent said it has shrunk or stayed the same. Nearly 40 percent of those voters said the midterm candidates haven't spoken enough about income inequality, while 29 percent said they have made too much of it.
Most voters, regardless of the party they support, said income inequality was increasing, including 79 percent of those voting for a Democrat and 63 percent voting for a Republican. Democratic voters, though, overwhelmingly supported a federal minimum wage increase, while just 25 percent of GOP voters wanted one. More than half of Republican voters also said income inequality has received too much attention, compared with just 4 percent of Democratic voters.
A plurality of voters said it is very important to them that Congress pass legislation next year to address the minimum wage.
So far, lawmakers haven't shown much promise on that front. Although Democrats in both chambers have sponsored a minimum wage bill, House Republicans haven't brought up the legislation for a vote, and Senate Democrats haven't mustered enough votes to overcome a GOP filibuster.
It's less likely minimum wage legislation will be passed next year if Republicans take over the Senate after Tuesday's elections -- a likely outcome, according to HuffPost Pollster's prognosis.
Even though a majority of likely voters said they want to see the federal minimum wage raised, most of the respondents also said they plan on voting for Republicans on Tuesday -- a response that underscores the common rift between GOP lawmakers and voters on the minimum wage. Conservatives outside Congress are generally much more receptive to the idea of raising the wage floor.
Forty-six percent of likely voters in the poll said they plan to back the GOP congressional candidate in their district, while 42 percent said they plan to support the Democrat. Forty-four percent said they will view their vote as a vote against President Barack Obama and his policies, while only 19 percent said they will cast their vote in support of the president. Thirty-three percent said the president will play no factor in how they vote.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Oct. 29-30 among 791 likely voters using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
The Huffington Post 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. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.