Poll shows Georgians support trade, $15 minimum wage


Georgians, by surprisingly large numbers, support international trade. A majority want the minimum wage raised eventually to $15 an hour. And they’re pretty evenly split over which presidential candidate, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, would better handle the U.S. economy.

Those were the economic highlights of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s latest poll of Georgia voters. While the survey revealed Clinton’s slight lead over Trump in Georgia, it also uncovered some equally fascinating details about Georgians’ hopes and fears for the future.

Interviews with voters in metro Atlanta and across the state bolstered the poll’s findings that, while two-thirds of Georgians say the country is headed in the wrong direction, they’re less sanguine about Georgia and its economic prospects.

“I actually think the country is OK (but) the perception is that things are worse than ever,” said Randall Weems, 47, a Clinton supporter in Clayton County. “It’s not doom and gloom. Look around the city of Atlanta. Buildings are going up everywhere. Jobs are available.”

Trump backers are less optimistic.

“I do not think we are in a good place. The past eight years, my health insurance has skyrocketed. Food has gotten astronomical,” said Blinda Nolin, 52, an administrative assistant in Villa Rica. “I believe Mr. Trump has the best interest of the American people at heart.”

The poll, conducted Aug. 1-4 by Abt SRBI, shows that 48 percent of Georgians have more confidence that Trump will better handle the economy. Yet, 44 percent are certain Clinton would do better. (The poll’s overall margin of error is 4.29 percentage points.)

Clinton, though, is making strides. In May, according to a previous AJC poll, only 41 percent of voters were more confident with her potential stewardship of the economy. Trump, meanwhile, registered 52 percent.

And, overall, Clinton gets higher marks than Trump — 51 percent to 42 percent — from voters who believe she’ll fight for the middle class.

“I bought my first home in June in East Point (and) a seller’s market is a good barometer for the economy,” said Carrie Hodge, 32, who works at a call center. “Overall, we’re headed in the right direction. But we have things we need to get done as far as progress goes. There’s enough wealth at the top that can be spread around.”

Hodge supports increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour to raise the living standards of middle- and lower-income Americans. So do 55 percent of Georgians, according to the poll, while 42 percent oppose gradually raising the minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and millions of Americans struggle to get by on such low wages. Clinton wants a gradual increase to $15 an hour. Trump supports a raise to $10 an hour, though he has also suggested other amounts.

“It’s not the government’s place to dictate a minimum wage. You could kill off some small businesses,” said Tim Berrios, 49, who works for a technology company. “But if a business can afford it, there should be something like a sliding scale.”

Only 31 percent of polled Republicans support a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Nearly 85 percent of Democrats do.

Free trade, another hot-button political issue this campaign season, garnered the support of 72 percent of all Georgians, a surprisingly high amount considering Trump and Clinton have, respectively, bashed the North American Free Trade Agreement and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Equally unexpected: Georgia’s Democrats are more pro-trade than typically big business Republicans. Only two-thirds of GOP poll respondents want the next president to support free trade agreements; 86 percent of Democrats do.

The trade-dependent Port of Savannah, for example, generates roughly $40 billion annually in statewide economic impact and has long been touted by Republicans and Democrats as critical to Georgia’s economic well-being.

“I don’t want the United State to isolate itself from the rest of the world (without) trade agreements and say we’re not going to honor them,” said Michael Porter, 40, an independent voter in Cobb County. “I don’t’ want to get to the point where we put ourselves on an island and don’t’ really have any allies anymore. I think that’s the wrong direction to go.”

 


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