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Fast food and other low-wage workers protested on Thursday across the country, including in Seattle, asking for an increase in the minimum wage (AP).

New $15 wage poll shows big shift in support

As burger flippers and cashiers took to the streets in Seattle and across the country Thursday for yet another minimum wage protest, a new poll is out showing the level of support Seattle voters have for increasing the wage here to $15 per hour.

The union SEIU 775 bought and paid for the poll, which EMC Research conducted via phone. The poll surveyed 550 likely November voters. The newest poll was a follow-up to a similar poll conducted in January, which showed that 68 percent (a sample of 800) of Seattle voters supported the $15 wage.

Now, 74 percent of voters support the $15 wage - a 6-point increase since January.

Commenting on the poll, host David Boze wondered why, if there's so much support for the increase, it didn't come up prior to the election of Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.

"It's only surprising that Sawant had to be the one to inspire this move," he said. "I'm surprised actually that the rest of the Seattle Council didn't move in this direction earlier."

The results of the poll are especially surprising since it appears that the debate over the issue that occurred between January and April helped the pro-$15 side. That's surprising because many $15 wage opponents emerged during that time, speaking publicly and writing sensible editorials spelling out how disastrous a $15 wage would be for the local economy.

Still, there's bad news in the poll for Sawant supporters. The poll found that 57 percent of voters support Mayor Ed Murray's compromise plan, which phases in the $15 wage over as long as a decade.

"So it looks like Sawant and others are going to have a whole lot of uphill battling to do if they want to get their charter amendment through - Sawant was very disappointed with the mayor's proposal," Boze said.

Other highlights of the poll include:

-When asked whether they'd prefer either a $12.50 or $15 minimum wage, 57 percent chose $15

-83 percent said they've been following the minimum wage debate closely

-When it comes to credibility on the issue, 47 percent chose Mayor Ed Murray over Sawant (32 percent credible) and the Socialist Alternative Party (scant 17 percent credible)

The fair wage group OneSeattle in April released a poll - barely covered in the media - that showed only 47 percent support a $15 wage in Seattle. In that poll, pollsters asked respondents if they would support a $15 wage immediately on Jan. 15, 2015 for all businesses except nonprofits and ones with fewer than 10 workers.

Despite the positive poll results for $15 wage supporters, Boze advised not giving up on criticizing and trying to stop the increase, which breaks every sensible law of economics.

"I'm not in favor of just saying, ‘Oh, let the left do whatever policy it wants,'" Boze said. "Look at Detroit. Detroit basically lived with horribly policy for years until it became absolutely bankrupt. That's not where we want to be."

Neal McNamara, Writer, KTTH
Originally from the Northeast, Neal McNamara has worked as a news reporter for more than 10 years at newspapers across the U.S., landing most recently in Seattle.
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