Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
Fully two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour. According to Public Religion Research Institute’s 2011 American Values Survey, strong majorities of nearly all demographic groups support this sizeable hike in the minimum wage. Notably, the only groups to oppose raising the minimum wage are Americans who identify with the Tea Party (56%) and Americans whose most trusted television media source is Fox News (54%).
These numbers remain constant from PRRI’s 2010 American Values Survey, when 67% of Americans also favored increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour.
Support Across the Religious and Political Landscape
Majorities of all religious groups favor increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour, including black Protestants (87%), Catholics (73%), Americans who are religiously unaffiliated (68%), white mainline Protestants (61%) and white evangelical Protestants (61%). Majorities of all major political groups also agree that the minimum wage should be raised to $10.00 an hour. More than 8 in 10 Democrats (82%) favor an increase in the minimum wage, followed by two-thirds of Independents (66%) and a majority of Republicans (52%).
Outliers: Tea Party and Fox News
Americans who identify with the Tea Party and Americans whose most trusted media source is Fox News stand out as the only demographic groups to oppose an increase in the minimum wage. Only 4 in 10 Tea Party identifiers (41%) and Americans who most trust Fox News (43%) favor an increase in the minimum wage.
Income and Education Levels
Notably, while Americans who are part of households that make less than $30,000 a year are the most strongly in favor of a minimum wage increase (74%), nearly two-thirds of Americans who are in households that make over $100,000 a year also support a minimum wage increase. There are also considerable divides in terms of level of education. Americans who have a high school education or less are far more likely than Americans with a postgraduate education to support increasing the minimum wage (74% vs. 52%).
Gender, Race and Generation
There are significant gendered, racial, and generational differences. Women are more likely than men to strongly support a minimum wage hike than men (74% vs. 59%). Black and Hispanic Americans are also more likely than white Americans to be in support (83%, 85% and 62%, respectively). Millennials (age 18-29) are substantially more likely than seniors (age 65 and up) to favor an increase in the minimum wage (73% vs. 54%).