Tuesday’s results proved it: The same voters who elected conservatives Rep. Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Dan Sullivan and Mike Rounds to the Senate also voted to increase their state’s minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage.

The distinction, in the public’s mind, seems to be between minimum wage and welfare. Your wage is what you earn for the work you do. Welfare is often seen as a giveaway to the lazy. Anyone who works 40 hours a week, Americans seem to think, deserves a decent paycheck…

Here’s the theme: Americans don’t mind rich people. They mind rich people who didn’t earn their wealth. Also, being wealthy doesn’t earn you a greater say in a democracy, people think.

Democrats understood the data well, they just couldn’t work it into their own policy framework this year. Republicans could harness this same data more effectively by crusading against unearned wealth — crony capitalism — and looking for ways to make hard work pay off.