Kudos to Lake County Democrats Lorri May and Shirley Harrington-Moore! The county party announced on Facebook last night that these two ladies have collected the most signatures in the state for the minimum-wage initiative petition. Good hustle, Lorri and Shirley!

Have no fear, petition hustlers: you still have today, tomorrow, and this weekend to try beating the Lake County total. But the petitions are due in Jason Gant's office in Pierre by the end of business Monday!

In recognition of their hustle, Lorri and Shirley get to ride with the petition caravan to Pierre on Monday. The Dems will hold a press conference at the Labor Temple in Sioux Falls Monday at 8 a.m. before heading to Pierre to give Secretary Gant something to do.

Few people drive to Pierre in November unless they are carrying shotguns, fishing poles, or completed petitions. And I don't think Lorri, Shirley, Zach, and the crew are going for walleye or pheasant. It sounds to me as if they have the 15,855 signatures necessary to put the minimum wage increase on our 2014 ballot.

That effort may be well spent: Nielson Brothers Polling (not to be confused with Northern Beef Packers) announced last night that increasing the minimum wage has strong support among South Dakota voters:

First, when asked about simply raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, 63.0 percent of likely voters said “yes,” 26.4 percent said “no,” and 10.6 percent were “undecided.”

Second, NBP asked whether the base wage rate for “tipped employees” should be raised from $2.13 to $4.25 per hour. 67.6 percent of respondents said they would support it, with 17.1 percent opposing it, and 15.3 percent “undecided.”

Third, when asked if the minimum wage should rise automatically with the cost of living, 58.9 percent of respondents said “yes,” 27.3 percent said “no,” and 13.8 percent were “unsure.”

Finally, when asked how they would vote on a proposed initiated measure that would include each of the above named provisions, 53.5 percent of respondents would vote for it, 22.8 percent would vote against it, and 23.8 percent were “unsure” [Nielson Brothers Polling, press release, 2013.10.30].

Separately, each minimum-wage provision wins majority support from Democrats and Republicans alike in NBP's poll. Only on the final question of the initiative offering the complete package does GOP support fall below 50%. 44.1% of Republicans would still vote for it, 29.2% would vote against, leaving a little more than a quarter considering whether they would vote against good and moral economic policy just because Democrats put it on the ballot.

David Montgomery tells Dems not to get too excited about this favorable poll:

...It’s good news, in that it suggests many voters look favorably on the idea of a minimum wage increase. But the poll is also done before the campaign, in which supporters and opponents will make their case to the people. Campaigning can change public opinion quickly, especially on issues where voters don’t have strong opinions.

Remember that in September 2012, a month and a half before the election, NBP found Initiated Measure 15 (the sales tax increase) up by 12 points. It ended uplosing by 13 points [David Montgomery, "NBP Finds Strong Support for Minimum Wage One Year Pre-election," Political Smokeout, 2013.10.31].

He's right: the folks who don't want to pay workers more will fight this initiative hard... and those opponents almost by definition are the folks with more money. So Lorri and Shirley and Dems' work has only begun. Run hard, Dems!