The Campaign Spot

Can a Minimum-Wage Hike Really Motivate Voters?

President Obama’s message for the coming year is going to be a renewed focus on “income inequality.” Or as Bloomberg News puts it:

One of the president’s agenda items on this is raising the minimum wage. President Obama backs a proposal from Democratic members of Congress to raise it to $10.10 per hour.

On that front, fast-food workers around the country are walking out on the job and holding protests today, with one Detroit fast-food employee arguing his $7.40 per hour constituted “slave wages.” Rallies and protests are scheduled in “more than 200” cities. That may sound like a lot, but there are more than 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States alone. There were no protesters at the one on Duke Street in Alexandria closest to me this morning, and chances are, there won’t be any protesters at the one nearest you, either.

Also, Walmart, another corporation the Left sees as evil for paying insufficient wages, opened its first two stores in Washington, D.C., yesterday. The D.C. council had spent much of the year debating a law that would have required Walmart to pay $12.50 an hour in wages and benefits. The law would have applied to any “big box” store, but not to smaller businesses. The D.C. council instead decided to raise the minimum wage in the city to $11.50 by 2016.

The wages did not discourage applicants, according to the company, stating they had 23,000 applications for about 800 jobs in the two stores.

Raising the minimum wage always polls well, but it’s not clear if this is an issue that really drives voters to the polls. Certainly, most shoppers tune out the complaints of low wages. The Walmart openings in D.C. were greeted with long lines of eager shoppers, and as noted, most McDonald’s patrons will never encounter protests about the restaurant’s wages.

What’s more, the patrons encounter fast-food workers every day, and perhaps they’re not that convinced that they’re overdue for a raise of another $3 per hour or so. Like this Taco Bell employee, fired after posting the below photo to Facebook:

Does he look tragically underpaid to you?

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