One of Pres. Obama’s Policies on Midterm Ballots Won Big in Red States


In early October, Pres. Obama was criticized for causing difficulties for red-state Democrats running for the Senate when he said, “I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Despite the flack he took for that rhetoric, one of his policies — raising the minimum wage — was in fact on the ballot in five states, all but one of which, Illinois, were dark red. All five ballot measures ” target=”_blank”>passed handily:

In all, voters in four red states – Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota – approved minimum wage increases while electing a wide variety of state and federal policymakers who strongly oppose minimum wage increases.

The issue was also on the ballot in Illinois, where it passed easily, but the measure was legally considered “advisory” – it’s non-binding on policymakers and is only intended to express public will. Whether Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner (R), who has spoken out against the existence of the minimum wage, intends to take the public’s advice seriously remains to be seen.

Taken together, once these new policies take effect, most of the country – 28 states and the District of Columbia – will have a higher minimum wage that the federal floor. The New York Times said this dynamic reflects “widespread dissatisfaction with Congress’s failure to increase the federal minimum of $7.25.”

Perhaps, though voters also took definitive steps to ensure they’ll remain dissatisfied for the foreseeable future.

The House will continue to be led by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who, before he rose to his current post, once said, “I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill.” More recently, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised the Koch brothers and their allies over the summer that if he’s promoted, “we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage.”

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