When Democrats were campaigning in 2006, one of the bedrocks of their platform was raising in the minimum wage. Democrats across the land, liberal and conservative, saw it as an easy political win, a campaign wedge issue, and an economic no-brainer. Once they got in power, it was one of few pieces of legislation their caucus could agree on.
Fast-forward four years and the political mood has shifted dramatically. Voters who were looking for more government responsibility after the Bush administration are now dismayed at the ballooning of government intervention.
Enter candidates like Joe Miller and Linda McMahon, who tout private-sector experience and a platform of curtailing government mandates. Both candidates expressed interest last week and rolling back the minimum wage, arguing it was arbitrary and a responsibility of the states.
Both would have surely been impaled in the 2006 climate. In 2010, it’s not so clear. It also doesn’t hurt that Alaska and Connecticut have two of the lowest rates of workers on minimum wage, according to First Read. Alaska also ranks in the top 10 in income growth during the Obama tenure.
The map below from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (sounds like a fun place to work) shows income growth between 1Q09, when Obama took office, and 2Q10. There are certainly some overlaps with the 2008 electoral map, with the Northeast doing better and the Great Plains doing worse. But the best is New York, which was in the dregs in early 2009, with 1.1% growth.