Three-quarters of likely voters in the 2nd Legislative District support increasing the state's minimum wage, according to a poll released Thursday by the Stockton Polling Institute.

About 76 percent of those intending to vote in November's election said they support increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, as well as annual cost of living increases for all workers. Meanwhile, about 20 percent opposed and 4 percent were undecided on the issue.

Pollsters took the opinions of 596 people via cell and land line phones from Sept. 7 to 9 in the district, which encompasses most of Atlantic County, including Atlantic City. They found that jobs is the top issue, followed by property taxes and taxes in general.

"For many of these voters in a tourism economy, increasing the minimum wage is a pocketbook issue," said Daniel J. Douglas, director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. "It's personal."

Douglas said unemployment in the county hovers at about 11.5 percent, 3 percentage points higher than the state average.

State Sen. Jim Whelan, a Democrat, voted in favor of a measure to increase the minimum wage earlier this year. Republican Assemblymen John Amodeo and Chris Brown both voted against it. Gov. Chris Christie ultimately vetoed the legislation.

Although 82 percent of those polled said their property taxes have gone up in the last year, they generally feel the state is going in the right direction. About 56 percent agreed with the state's direction, while 31 percent said it's on the wrong track.

Other findings included:

•Sixty-one percent said an endorsement of a legislative candidate by Christie would make them less likely to vote for that candidate or wouldn't make a difference. Thirty percent said they would be more likely to support an endorsed candidate.

•Seventy-seven percent support a proposal to allow veterans groups to use funds raised through gambling. Thirteen percent opposed the measure and 8 percent are undecided.

The survey has a 4 percent margin of error.

Contact Wallace McKelvey:

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