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CEDAR RAPIDS | A majority of Iowans favors raising the minimum wage, a position that could hurt Republicans in general and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst in particular, according to a poll released Thursday.

Public Policy Polling’s survey of 659 likely voters from Oct. 10-12 found that by a 53 percent to 38 percent majority Iowans favor increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

That could hurt Ernst, especially among independents, according to PPP polling director Tom Jensen. A plurality of independents support raising the minimum wage and 43 percent say it makes them less likely to vote for Ernst. That’s slightly less than the 47 percent of all voters who say Ernst’s stance makes them less likely to vote for her.

Among voters in general as well as independents, nearly one in four says Ernst’s position makes them more likely to support her.

Jensen cited the HuffPost Pollster average that shows Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley within 2 points of each other.

“So a position that voters say makes them less likely to vote for Ernst by a 23-point margin could really hurt her,” he said.

Braley has supported a $10.10 minimum wage while Ernst has opposed a federal minimum wage. She believe states should set a wage based on cost of living.

PPP’s findings square with recent Iowa Poll results showing Iowans are split nearly evenly on the issue. The Iowa Poll found that by 50 percent to 48 percent Iowans favored raising the minimum wage rather than leave it as is.

Support has fallen since March when the Iowa Poll found 65 percent of Iowans supported the increase.

One reason Iowans support the increase, according to PPP, is that 85 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans don’t think they could support their family on $7.25 an hour.

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Opposition to a minimum wage increase could have a lasting impact, according to PPP. By a 53 to 22 percent voters say they will blame the Republicans over the Democrats if no minimum wage legislation is passed this year.

“The minimum wage is a potent issue in the Iowa Senate race, and continued failure to address it may haunt Republicans both this fall and in the years to come,” Jensen said.

Support has been higher nationally than in Iowa, according to a number of polls. A year ago, Gallup Poll found 76 percent of American supported an increase to $9 an hour. In January, Quinnipiac found 72 of Americans favored a higher rate.

In spite of the support and voters saying they are more likely to vote for candidates who support an increase, voters don’t rate it as the most important issue when choosing who to support.

In June, Quinnipiac asked Iowa voters to list their most important issue. “Economy,” “jobs/employment” and “education” all polled in the double digits. Raising the minimum wage was the top issue of 1 percent of those polled.

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Comments: 319 398-8375; James.Lynch@TheGazette.com

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