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Minimum Wage Vote Map: Correlations with Population, Turnout, and Corinna

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!


  1. Tim 2014.11.09

    No doubt they will repeal it, they have Daugaard's permission, and besides, they really don't give a damn what we think, well until the spring of 16 anyway, when it's time to get that nice wool fleece out and pull it over the low info voters eyes again.

  2. Tim 2014.11.09

    If it seems like I have no confidence in SD voters anymore, after last Tuesday I don't. I have always considered SD voters different than voters in other red states, a little smarter, but not anymore.

  3. mike from iowa 2014.11.09

    Minimum wage had the support of 70% of the population of all the states and nearly half of all wingnuts favored it. Depending on who you ask,between 50 and 70 wingnuts favored a wage hike. But then,we all or most of us realize people with an R behind their names aren't the most informed voters. The Wash. Monthly says Dems use minimum wage as a political weapon,but,they forgot to mention the way wingnuts use Gays,guns,god,same sex marriage and abortion as political weapons.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.09

    Tim, as Democrats, we must take faith in the voters as an axiom. But we have to back that faith with rock'em-sock'em candidates who can lead those voters to do the right thing.

  5. Jenny 2014.11.09

    Oh, but it's sooo much cheaper to live here in SD! Come on, Dems, you're so negative!

  6. Ellee Spawn 2014.11.09

    You can bet your hiney that I'll be paying close attention to how the newly elected representatives in District 12 react to the minimum wage. I played nicely this election cycle. Gloves will be off next time if those who supposedly are representing me mess it up.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.09

    And while you're paying attention, Ellee, be sure to bring ten friends! I'll watch the hopper, and if we see a bill to repeal IM 18 pop up, we should organize a roadtrip to Pierre. Or maybe just a general strike.

  8. grudznick 2014.11.09

    Mr. Novstrup would never let them repeal that law.

  9. Ellee Spawn 2014.11.09

    Trust me, Cory. We're beginning to organize already. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm just getting started.

  10. grudznick 2014.11.09

    Ms. Spawn, talk to Mr. Novstrup because he controls what happens in the legislatures related to minimum wages. You will likely find him sympathetic.

  11. Tim 2014.11.09

    Ok Cory, try not to be too disappointed when they let us all down, again. As long as they keep eating the shit sandwich republicans are feeding them, they will be to full for dessert.

  12. Ellee Spawn 2014.11.09

    Grudz - as a newcomer to our political climate in SD... I'm afraid I don't know who that is. However, if you would be so kind as to educate me, I'd be grateful!

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.11.09

    Tsk. Cory, I'm going to assume you are punning with the "womano a womano" quip, and that you (the astute language teacher) know full well that mano a mano means "hand to hand," right?

    I bring it up because otherwise some of us who are less lingual might have missed the true genius of your jest. ;-)

  14. jerry 2014.11.09

    Stretch got a mandate when he was elected and so did his crooked cohorts. Besides, there was a lot of Koch money before the election, now it is time to spread that around. Voters made the call when they elected stretch and now lets see what they say. I can hear the crickets chirping on this back door theft of their wishes. Too bad for them, maybe they should have voted democratic!

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.09

    Si, señor Bill, comprendo, pero no puedo resistirme jugar con palabras. :-)

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.09

    Ellee, I look forward to hearing about this organizing. When do we sabotage the Panzer unit?

  17. grudznick 2014.11.09

    Ms. Spawn, there is a Mr. Novstrup in the legislatures here in South Dakota who is very powerful and kind.

  18. grudznick 2014.11.09

    That looks like a lottery machine. People making minimum wage should not be allowed to buy scratch tickets at those C-stores. It's a tax on people who cannot do math right.

  19. jerry 2014.11.09

    It is a lottery machine that is for sure. but it is really more than that. It actually is kind of like an organ grinder that you turn to make the monkey do tricks for in a very ironic sense. What little bit of peanuts the wealthy give out is clearly shown. The irony is that by keeping this as low as they want will only make so that the products they sell will not be available to purchase. Of course this is not lost on Walmart who has clearly stepped aside on this matter. Leave it to our newly elected criminal in charge to think that he knows best.

  20. 96Tears 2014.11.10

    It struck me the map looks like a party persuasion index map highlighting Democrat and Republican performances over the years. Why aren’t Democrats doing a better job winning legislative seats in these counties green counties?

    More interesting is Mike Rounds’ reference in the Argus Sanford over the weekend about the GOP “ground game” managed over the last 18 months by his former top governor’s aide Jason Glodt:

    “The ground game was absolutely the most critical part of the campaign itself. I can’t say enough about the literally hundreds of South Dakota volunteers who helped us get the vote out. (Aide) Jason Glodt was a superb coordinator of the victory campaign. He put in about a year and a half in building the ground game. It was worth probably about 5 or 6 points in our victory that we can directly attribute to the ground game.”

    This means the SDGOP squeezed out every GOP vote in every nook and cranny of the state during a national GOP wave election. I’m not going out on a limb by saying there was virtually no similar effort from the Democrats, except on the reservations. If you think of the IM-18 result as a poll, think of the survey being very heavily overweighted with Republicans.

    Cory, your map shows where the Democrats’ message is heard, understood and gets positive responses without much coercion from a GOTV machine. The disconnect is with Democratic Party candidates on the ballot. Certainly part of the challenge for Democratic candidates is extreme gerrymandering over time and negative attitudes. But the IM-18 results show some interesting possibilities worth pursuing in a different way.

  21. Lynn 2014.11.10

    Chris that is so funny! That's about right for what they expect for their workforce development and wages! lol

  22. Douglas Wiken 2014.11.10

    State employees wages should all be a function of the minimum wage and the only way to increase those wages or salaries should be by increasing the minimum wage. Percentage wage increases have greatly broadened the spread between highly paid and those who have never really had a good living wage.

    Do-Nothing Daugaard is a disgrace, but not quite as much of a disgrace as those who voted for him quite often in direct contradiction to rationality and their own interest.

  23. Ellee Spawn 2014.11.10

    Mr. Grudznick - there appear to be TWO Mr. Novstrups.... which one would be the kind one of which you speak?

    Cory - I most definitely will keep you in the loop as to this whole organizing situation. I'm quite excited about it and feeling very energized.

    As to the Panzer unit... well... the sooner the better... it's going to require many eyes and ears on said unit to ensure that the proper ammunition is available and used to the best strategy that can be developed. ;-) I trust that your eyes and ears will be quite instrumental in this portion of the task, as always.

  24. crossgrain 2014.11.10

    Cory - you can get a South Dakota Legislative District *.kml file for use in a Fusion Table from here: (downloads as a *.kmz, but 7-Zip will open it) ... not sure if that's what you needed or not. Don't know squat about fusion tables :-/

  25. Russell Hillberry 2014.11.10

    Douglas County was an even larger outlier on the constitutional amendment regarding gambling, which was overwhelmingly opposed there. In races without a Democratic candidate, it seems that Douglas County consistently offers the lowest levels of support for the Libertarian candidates. These races are interesting because they offer a test of the relative strength of Libertarian and Republican brands.

    My point is that it is not at all unusual for Douglas County to be an outlier, and these positions are consistent with past voting behavior. I did not necessarily expect Douglas County to be an outlier on the minimum wage question, but I am not all that surprised either.

    Here is a statistical analysis of 46 SD ballot measures that Bill Anderson and I did several years ago. We found that Douglas County is unique along several dimensions. See pages 13-22.

  26. Curtis Price 2014.11.10

    A Google Fusion Table of SD legislative districts would probably break the software - without serious generalization - because they are so darned complex. It takes a lot of vertices to disenfranchise that many people.

Comments are closed.