The 55% of South Dakotans who made Initiated Measure 18 law this week disagree with Governor Dennis Daugaard's belief that we should not have a minimum wage and should instead live like Okies in The Grapes of Wrath. I will wager that sizable portion of those who voted against increasing South Dakota's minimum wage to an annually indexed $8.50 per hour agree we ought to have a minimum wage but disagree on the numbers.

Before Governor Daugaard and Republican legislators think of repealing the will of the popular majority, they should look at this map. So, perhaps, should wage earners looking for communities in South Dakota where the general public appears to believe in fair wages.

  • Red counties mustered less than 40% support for the minimum-wage increase. The reddest county was Douglas (Venhuizen country!), giving IM 18 only a 34.35% Yes vote.
  • Pink counties gave IM 18 40%–50%
  • Green counties fielded majorities for IM 18. The palest green (e.g., Lake, Lincoln, Pennington) counties approved IM 18, but by less than the statewide 55.05%.
  • The darker greens break at 60% and 70%.
  • The strongest support for IM 18 came in Shannon/Oglala Lakota County, which gave the minimum-wage hike more than 90% support.

The strongest opposition to a higher minimum wage arose where people aren't. The 31 counties that turned down IM 18 include only 19% of the state's population. Rank the counties by population, count the top half, and you find 56.4% support for IM 18. In the bottom half, support was 46.5%.

Now I don't have the data broken down by Legislative districts (and boy, if someone has a Google Fusion Table for South Dakota Legislative districts, let me know!), but I see two interesting county-level correlations that might inspire Republican legislators to roll the dice on repealing IM 18.

First, support for IM 18 and voter turnout by county have a noticeably negative correlation (–0.6148). Where more voters participated, IM 18 had less support. That suggests (again, I'm looking at counties, not districts) that legislators who dare to repeal IM 18 could study their constituencies, find pockets of high turnout and high IM 18 opposition, and turn those folks out in 2016 to cover their anti-democratic keesters.

Second, let's look at a big-D correlation. The best proxy I have for Democratic support for IM 18 is the Kristi Noem–Corinna Robinson race, the only statewide GOP–Dem mano a mano (womano a womano? mujer a mujer?) test. The correlation between Yes on IM 18 and Robinson votes by county is remarkably strong (+0.8966). The places where legislators would torque their constituencies off most by repealing IM 18 already have more Dems, and a Republican legislator reveling in his party's smug sense of invincibility might just say screw 'em!

Not that I recommend my Republican friends take these numbers as an excuse to repeal Initiated Measure 18. 55% of South Dakotans just passed a law. Legislators, you should respect that law.

And workers, if you're looking for folks inclined to pay better wages, don't apply in Armour!