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The Independent Poll: Large swath of Nevada voters favor minimum wage hike

By Riley Snyder

More than two-thirds of Nevada voters in a new poll think the state should raise its minimum wage.

Results from the new Independent Poll show that Nevada voters support raising the state’s current tiered minimum wage ($7.25 an hour for workers with employer-offered health insurance and $8.25 for those without).

In total, 69 percent of voters say they support increasing the wage compared to 27 percent who thought it should be kept at its current level. Fifty-nine percent of voters polled said they strongly supported raising the wage, compared to 22 percent who said they strongly believed it should stay at the current level.

Voters were specifically asked the following question:

“As you may know, there has been discussion recently about increasing Nevada’s minimum wage. Nevada’s minimum wage is currently 7 dollars and 25 cents an hour if an employer offers health insurance and 8 dollars and 25 cents an hour if an employer does not offer health insurance. Should the state increase Nevada’s minimum wage or keep it at its current level? Do you feel that way strongly or not so strongly?”

A slim majority of self-identified Republicans supported raising the wage (52 to 45 percent), while large numbers of Independent voters (73 to 23 percent) and Democrats (85 to 13 percent) supported a wage hike.

Voters who described themselves as both conservative and Republican were one of the few demographic groups to say the wage should stay the same, with a close 46 to 51 percent margin.

But most other demographic groups favor a minimum wage hike. Large swaths of men (64 to 33 percent) and women (74 to 22 percent) support a wage increase, as well as voters under 50 (73 to 25 percent) and over 50 (67 to 29 percent).

Hispanic voters supported an increase in the wage by a 76 to 21 percent margin, as did white voters (66 to 31 percent). Voters in populous Clark County supported raising the wage by a 74 to 24 percent margin, while voters supporting in by slightly narrower margins in Washoe County (65 to 30 percent) and in rural parts of the state (57 to 39 percent).

A large number of Nevada workers could be affected by a minimum wage increase — about nine percent of the state’s workforce earns $9 or less an hour, and some economists estimate that more than 500,000 state workers make less than $15 an hour.

Several Nevada Democrats say they plan to push for a minimum wage increase during the 2017 Legislature, but any increase would need support from either Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval or legislative Republicans to help override a gubernatorial veto.

The Mellman Group is an opinion research firm that has done polling for former Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Steny Hoyer and other political and corporate clients, including many in Nevada. FiveThirtyEight gives the group a “B” grade in their ranking of pollsters and says their polls historically tilt slightly Democratic.

Editor Jon Ralston explains why The Nevada Independent hired Mellman in a blog post here.

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