When President Obama came out in support of a minimum wage increase last week, he was by no means getting ahead of public opinion. A poll released on Monday from Gallup shows that more than three-quarters of Americans support a hike, including a majority of Republicans.
The poll, complete data for which is at Gallup's site, marks a 5 percent increase in support since March. Support is slightly lower for an increase that's coupled to the rate of inflation, an idea Americans support by a more than two-to-one margin. The goal in indexing the minimum wage is to avoid the de facto salary cuts that come with the dollar's reduced buying power each year. If you make exactly what you made four years ago, you can buy less with it. The minimum wage has badly lagged the rate of inflation — and minimum wages are only increased in one-off Congressional votes.
Interestingly, support for a one-time minimum wage increase sees broad support regardless of political party. Most Americans also support an indexed wage, though a majority of Republicans oppose the idea.
Indexed minimum wage
One reason Republicans might favor the policy more than might be expected is that Republican states often have a higher percentage of their populations who earn minimum wage or below, as this map indicates (using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Red states also have a higher percentage of hourly workers who are earning minimum wage as opposed to a higher figure.
In part, this is because some states, like California, have minimum wages set above the federal baseline. Which itself reflects the poll numbers above: California's Democrat-heavy legislature has repeatedly voted to increase the state's minimum wage.