Focusing on an apparently quixotic effort to raise the minimum wage in 2014 allows the president to show support for working people and could help Democratic candidates change the subject from the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
And a Republican rejection of the proposal to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 would help Democrats portray them as unconcerned with the plight of working Americans and siding with the wealthy.
“It has an appeal with a broad segment of the public,” said Carroll Doherty of the Pew Research Center. “And it draws very strong support within his own partisan base. This is something that his party cares deeply about.”
The issue may also help unite liberals in the Democratic party base with more centrist party members.
“On any number of issues, the Democratic base thinks he’s moved too far to the center and the center thinks he’s moved too far to the left,” said Dan Schnur at the University of Southern California. “The minimum wage is one of those rare issues where he gets support from both.”
Polls show strong support for raising the minimum wage, something administration officials cite in justifying the current push. A Washington Post-ABC news poll released last Wednesday showed support for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 has support among 85 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans.
“It tends to be a very popular issue with the public, it tends to be a very popular issue with independents,” White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman told a think tank group last week.