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  • EMC Research
Back in January, a poll of Seattle voters showed a whopping 68 percent supported a $15 minimum wage, a level of support that was surprising even to the labor coalition that funded the poll (and the pollsters who conducted it). But that was before the debate heated up, before multiple proposals were out, before big business had time to start organizing. What, people wondered, would voter support look like now that we've been debating the issue for four months?

Well, according to a just-released poll by the same firm and paid for by SEIU 775: Support for a $15 minimum wage has now hit 74 percent of likely Seattle voters.

There's a lot of interesting data beyond just that basic up-and-down support number, but let's pause for a second and say HOLY SHIT. That 68 percent support was a big deal in January, and it's been used as leverage since then by $15 minimum wage supporters—especially Council Member Kshama Sawant, who's spoken often about having a "supermajority" of Seattleites behind the higher wage. But polls are just snapshots in time, and even if they look good, the tides can turn quickly. This shows that after a very public debate, after a lot of arguments for and against the wage hike, after a contentious political process that is still ongoing, the city still not only supports a $15 minimum wage, but supports it even more.

This newest poll was done by EMC Research, via telephone survey of 550 likely November 2014 voters, with a margin of error of 4.2 percent. What else did the poll find? We'll dig into the numbers even more throughout the day, but here are some basics:

83 percent of likely voters say they've been following this minimum wage debate. That means this high level of support is coming from people who have been paying attention, not people who support some hypothetical $15 they're only just hearing about.

• When asked whether they're more likely to support a $15 minimum wage or a $12.50 wage, $15 wins again with 57 percent support, versus 38 percent support for $12.50.

• When three different potential minimum-wage plans are described in a basic way to voters, the mayor's committee's plan gets the most support, at 57 percent. That skyrockets to 66 percent when voters are told who is backing the plan. The 15 Now proposal gets 45 percent support (50 percent when voters are told who's backing it) and a potential OneSeattle plan with an eight-year phase-in, permanent total compensation, and training wages gets 41 percent support (44 percent when voters are told who's backing it).

• But interestingly, when the individual components are broken down, it looks like the basics in 15 Now's plan are actually slightly more popular. Asked about phase-ins for big and small businesses, 37 percent of voters support big business hitting $15 immediately and only small businesses getting phased in. Thirty-five percent support a phase-in for both, which is what the mayor's plan contains. (That small difference is within the poll's margin of error.) Added together, though, there's broad agreement that small businesses deserve a phase-in. And when it comes to tip and benefit credits, voters are even clearer: Only 26 percent of voters think tips and benefits should be counted temporarily and then phased out, which the mayor's plan does. But 38 percent say they should never be counted toward the minimum wage at all. Twenty-three percent say they should be counted permanently.

• They also studied the credibility of certain people and institutions when it comes to the minimum wage, and Mayor Ed Murray wins handily with a 43 percent of voters finding him credible on this issue. "Labor unions" run a close second, Sawant gets only 32 percent, and the Socialist Alternative Party comes in last with 17 percent, even though their position on the issue seems to best matches voters' position.

You should dig in yourself, since this is fascinating stuff. Find a PDF of the polling memo right here.

And to answer an inevitable question: In mid-April, the business-backed group OneSeattle released a poll they said showed dropping support for $15, with only 47 percent supporting it. Are we just ignoring that because it was paid for by big business and we're totally biased? No, we're ignoring it because it was garbage. They polled just half the sample size of the January poll and, even more importantly, we only ever saw the data for a single question that supposedly proved their point, a question that asked about a "Proposal A," backed by "Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party." What did the whole polling memo say? What were the responses to Proposals B or C? Who knows. But without more complete data, it was hard to take seriously.

These newest numbers may help cement the $15 minimum wage as a reality in the minds of people like, say, the city council, which is set to deliberate on the current proposal through the end of this month. There's been a lot of fear the council could be swayed by their imminent reelection campaigns (the district elections measure that passed in November forces all nine of 'em to go back to voters in 2015). Would that mean that big business money would sway them to the right? Now we can ask: Will what appears to be the clear will of the voters sway them to the left?