Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Cameron Shelton

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

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2020 Sophia S Helland


The Median Voter Theorem is a key concept in political economy, one that has been tested numerous times in the literature. However, it remains unclear the extent to which legislators respond to the needs of their district on a bill-by-bill basis. This paper seeks to understand the role of ideology and of local economic pressures that a state legislator faces when deciding how to vote on minimum wage legislation. Although some papers have examined legislator voting behavior on specific issues, this paper uses state legislatures and minimum wage bills to innovate on this existing literature in two key ways. First, I capitalize on the fact that the content of minimum wage legislation is relatively consistent throughout time, thus expanding my sample size and allowing me to compare bills across several years and states. Second, results from minimum wage bills at the state level are more generalizable, as they address important issues but are less high-profile than most federal or emergency bills. To test this question, I compile a list of state minimum wage bills that received a floor vote between 2012-2016 and of each legislators’ vote. I then match each legislator with an ideology score from the “The Ideological Mapping of American Legislatures,” and a series of economic and demographic variables from the American Community Survey at the district level. I find that minimum wages are an overwhelmingly partisan issue, with Democrats being almost 60 percent more likely to vote in favor of an increase. However, as the number of individuals in a district who would be affected by a minimum wage increase goes up, legislators become less likely to vote in favor of the bill.