Politics

The Left Banks on Minimum Wage to Tilt Colorado to Clinton

Ballot measure could juice turnout among liberal base otherwise unenthused with Hillary

Less than a minute into her opening remarks at the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton touted a minimum wage increase.

“We also have to make the economy fairer,” Clinton said. “That starts with raising the national minimum wage.”

“It’s not just a drummed up get-out-the-vote campaign that started this year … Democrats worked at this for four years.”

Such a move would be a blow to the economy, and could be a tough sell on a national level if she is elected. But this might be good politics for Democrats and down-ticket Democrats in the five states that have a proposed wage hike on the ballot this year.

“Part of the evidence that this is a get-out-the-vote effort for Democrats is that Democrats previously held both the governorship and the legislature in Colorado and they could have increased the minimum wage, but they didn’t want to,” Mike Krause, spokesman for the Independence Institute, a Colorado think tank that opposes the minimum wage increase, told LifeZette.

The Colorado measure, Amendment 70, would increase the state’s wage from the current $9.30 to $12 by the year 2020.

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“As a get-out-the-vote effort, it will do well even if the measure fails, because it’s appealing to the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic party, and he won the Colorado Democratic primary,” Krause continued.

Clinton is suffering with some of the Sanders base — particularly with millennials. Just 33 percent of voters age 18-29 approved of Clinton in a Gallup poll.

A poll by Magellan Strategies found 55 percent of Coloradans support increasing the minimum wage, while 42 percent oppose it.

The group pushing the proposal, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, is getting most of its financial backing from left-wing groups outside the state, such as the Service Employees International Union (one of the most powerful organizations in Democratic politics), the California-based Fairness Project, and the New York-based Civic Participation Action Fund.

Arizona, a swing state, and Maine, which has one swing congressional district, each have a ballot measure to hike the minimum wage to $12 by 2020. So does the reliably Democratic Washington State, which would raise it from $9.47 to $13 by 2020. South Dakota, reliably Republican, actually has a measure to decrease the minimum wage for workers under 18.

But it’s Colorado that will be most consequential. In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney in the state by less than 5 percent. This year, the presidential race appears much closer. In early September, Clinton led by as much as 7 points. Trump has led by as much 4 points. More recently, Trump had a 1-point edge.

Democrats could also have another ballot measure in Colorado to bring the Left to the polls. Amendment 69 would impose a single-payer health care system on the state.

“It’s not just a drummed up get-out-the-vote campaign that started this year,” Krause said of the health measure. “Democrats worked at this for four years.”

A poll by Magellan Strategies found only 27 percent will support the measure, while 65 percent oppose it and 8 percent were undecided. So, this measure could have little chance of putting Hillary over the top.

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But momentum could be turning against the minimum wage ballot measure as well.

The state’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post — which twice endorsed Obama for president — opposes the wage hike, asserting: “it goes too far in some key ways and we worry that it could actually hurt low-wage earners more than it would help them, especially the young, new workers the law has traditionally served. We worry also that its price increases could disproportionately hurt Colorado’s restaurant industry, which would be dangerous in this state that benefits strongly from tourists — who spent more than $19 billion here last year.”

In another miserable public relations blow, the Colorado Families for a Fair Wage group was not paying its signature gatherers $12 per hour to obtain the necessary signature to qualify to be on the ballot, according to The Washington Times.

It’s also revealing that the widely celebrated Fight for $15 didn’t make it to any statewide ballots this year. Last year, voters in Portland, Maine — no cauldron of the vast right-wing conspiracy — rejected a $15 minimum wage. So it’s quite possible that as voters are becoming more aware of the job-killing prospects, Democrats might well be disappointed in the GOTV impact.

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