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New Poll Shows Low-Wage Workers Could Sway 2016 Election, $15 Minimum Wage is Winning Issue

YouGov low-wage poll

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A new poll conducted by YouGov and Harris Panel shows that low income, non-union workers would be more likely to vote in the presidential election if there was a candidate who promised a $15 minimum wage and a union for fast food workers.  The study was conducted on behalf of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and asked nearly 2,300 workers earning less than $15 an hour how candidates’ positions on the minimum wage and labor rights would affect their participation. 

The polling was done online. Respondents were U.S. citizens working more than 10 hours a week. The results show that this demographic could be a powerful force if mobilized before the 2016 elections. 

45 percent of respondents said they would ‘definitely or probably’ register to vote if such promises were made by a candidate.  65 percent of registered voters would be more likely to vote in the upcoming election if the same criteria were met, the poll suggests.  

Other key findings include:

• 72 percent approve of labor unions;
• 75 percent support $15 and a union;
• 69 percent say it should be easier for workers like themselves to form and join a union;
• 72 percent believe that unions can make a real difference in their ability to obtain raises;
• 69 percent support raising the minimum wage to $15;
• 66 percent say they would have a better chance of making $15 an hour if they could join a union; and
• Support for $15 and a union is particularly strong in the South at 77 percent.

According to NELP, an estimated 42 percent of American workers earn less than $15 an hour.  When broken up by demographics, the numbers show that more than half of African-Americans, and almost 60 percent of Latino workers, earn less than $15 an hour. 

“Our research shows that these issues could not only push millions of often disaffected, low turnout voters to show up on election day, but could also motivate millions of new low-wage voters to register to vote across the country.”

Encouragingly, raising wages universally is becoming a more mainstream concept. More than half of those surveyed in the poll said they were knowledgeable about the “Fight for $15″ campaign and 75 percent said they supported its stated goals of a $15 minimum wage and a union for fast food workers.

The pollster who managed the poll, Donna Victoria of Victoria Research & Consulting, told Buzzfeed that the numbers are especially important because they focus on a demographic that is rarely targeted.  She explained the importance of dividing low-wage workers into different categories. Low-wage workers with families have “naturally different” opinions than the non-working elderly, for instance.

“We decided we wanted to talk to the people themselves.  A revolutionary idea — let’s directly ask what these workers think.  This is the first-ever deep dive in recent times asking this demographic what they think.


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