Holland and Bentley aside, the ballot questions aren't exactly a slam-dunk for the Democrats. For instance, they may not help Democratic Senate candidates in South Dakota and Nebraska, where Republican candidates are heavily favored.
But the proposal could make a difference in Alaska, where incumbent Sen. Mark Begich faces a tough re-election battle. The AFL-CIO labor union, which backs Begich, is making the minimum-wage ballot question a core part of its message in door-knocking and phone calls to voters. Voters in that state also will consider a proposal to legalize marijuana, another measure that could help Democrats.
Alaska Republicans who control the state legislature, in fact, tried to raise the state minimum wage this spring. But they were blocked by Democrats and their allies who wanted to put the question directly to voters instead.
The proposal would raise the state's minimum wage from $7.75 to $9.75 by 2016 and adjust it for inflation after that.
In Arkansas, both Democratic Senator Mark Pryor and his Republican challenger, Tom Cotton, back the ballot proposal that would gradually raise the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour by 2017.
A poll this spring found that nearly 8 in 10 Arkansas voters supported the raise. That's a sign that many voters in one of the nation's poorest states know someone personally who is struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage, said Steve Copley, a Methodist minister who chairs the advocacy group Give Arkansas A Raise Now.
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The minimum-wage push could help Pryor by drawing in otherwise ambivalent Democratic voters like Jennifer Nelson, who works two minimum-wage jobs as a home health aide and day care worker.
"I don't dislike him or like him," Nelson said of Pryor. The ballot proposal, on the other hand, "would make a big difference. I'd have a little extra money. I'd try to save it."
The bottom line
If successful, the ballot initiatives would boost wages for 419,000 workers, says the National Employment Law Project. That's on top of the 7 million workers who will benefit from the other state and local increases passed over the previous two years, but still far short of the 28 million workers that the White House estimates would benefit from a national $10.10 rate.