November 18, 2010 - American Voters Say Ban Cell Phones While Driving, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Support For War In Afghanistan Collapses

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By a 63 - 34 percent margin, American voters support a federal ban on cell phone use while driving, even while using a "hands-free" device, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

American voters say 50 - 44 percent that the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan, the first time the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds more voters opposed to the war. This compares to a September 9 survey in which voters said 49 - 41 percent that the U.S. was doing the right thing in Afghanistan.

Repeal "don't ask, don't tell," voters say 58 - 34 percent, including 55 - 38 percent among voters with a member of the military in their family. This is the first time military families have supported repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

Given three choices on the new health care reform law:
  • 30 percent of American voters say expand it;
  • 18 percent say leave it as it is;
  • 47 percent say repeal it.
"In a country narrowly split on most questions, there is unusual agreement that it is a good idea to ban driving while talking on a cell phone," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, "even when a driver is using a 'hands-free device.'

"Given that Democrats generally favor a larger role for government, it is not surprising that they support a ban 70 - 28 percent, while Republicans back a ban 56 - 40 percent and independent voters support a ban 64 - 33 percent."

Women back the idea 70 - 26 percent, while men support it 55 - 42 percent. While voters 18-34 years old back the ban only 51 - 47 percent, those over age 55 call it a good idea 74 - 22

Ten percent of voters admit they talk on a cell phone while driving "very often," while 21 percent say "sometimes," 38 percent say "rarely" and 31 percent say "never."

A cell phone ban would increase highway safety "a great deal," 49 percent of voters say, while 31 percent say it would improve safety "some."

"In a country sharply divided on so many things it is ironic gays in the military - once the prototypical wedge issue - has attracted a national consensus among the voting public to a much larger degree than other, seemingly less controversial issues," said Brown.

Support for President Barack Obama's policy in Afghanistan turns the political landscape upside down. Democrats say 62 - 33 percent the United States should not be there, even though they strongly support President Obama heavily on virtually all other issues. Republicans, who oppose Obama on most issues, back the war 64 - 31 percent. Independent voters say 54 - 40 percent the United States should not be in Afghanistan.

Military families are divided, as 49 percent believe the U.S. is doing the right thing in Afghanistan while 47 percent say the U.S. should not be involved.

"President Barack Obama is in somewhat of a tenuous position politically on the Afghan war. If Republicans should desert him, he'd find himself with a very unpopular war on his hands," said Brown.

Looking at health care, 48 percent of independent voters, whose massive move to the Republicans in this month's election was a big reason for the GOP triumph, want it repealed, while 19 want it left unchanged and 26 percent want it expanded.

Although there is much controversy in Washington, D.C. about administration efforts to change the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military, outside the Beltway there is a consensus. Although Republicans favor keeping the current policy 53 - 38 percent, Democrats want it changed 72 - 22 percent and independent voters feel the same way 64 - 29 percent. Overall, support for changing the policy is statistically unchanged from this February when Quinnipiac found the public supported repeal 57 - 36 percent.

From November 8 - 15, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,424 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

30. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling foreign policy?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Approve              46%    16%    75%    43%    46%    46%    41%    79%    49%
Disapprove           44     75     16     48     47     42     50      6     43
DK/NA                10      9     10      9      7     13      9     15      8
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Approve              61%    44%    39%    48%    50%    42%    75%    59%    19%
Disapprove           30     48     50     39     43     51     17     30     72
DK/NA                10      8     12     12      7      7      7     11      9
 
                                   WHITE.............
                     NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Approve              42%    56%    24%    32%    40%
Disapprove           47     38     67     60     50
DK/NA                11      6      9      8     10
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling foreign policy?
                                                             APPROVE.......
                                                             High    Low
                     Nov 18  Sep 09  Jul 21  May 26  Apr 22  Apr 29  Jul 21
                     2010    2010    2010    2010    2010    2009    2010
 
Approve              46      45      43      48      48       57      43
Disapprove           44      44      46      43      42       32      46
DK/NA                10      11      12       9      10       11      12
 
 
47. What should Congress do with the new health care law, expand it, leave it as is, or repeal it?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Expand               30%     5%    53%    26%    26%    34%    25%    57%    41%
Leave as is          18      5     28     19     17     18     16     28     21
Repeal               47     85     14     48     52     42     53      8     31
DK/NA                 6      5      5      6      5      6      6      7      6
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Expand               45%    29%    22%    34%    29%    23%    59%    36%    11%
Leave as is          17     16     20     17     19     18     24     24      7
Repeal               34     51     49     42     49     55     12     32     78
DK/NA                 4      4      8      6      3      4      5      7      4
 
                                   WHITE.............
                     NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Expand               29%    34%    16%    19%    18%
Leave as is          16     20      9     12     19
Repeal               49     42     70     64     57
DK/NA                 7      4      4      5      6
   
 
48. Federal law currently prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you think this law should be repealed or not?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes                  58%    38%    72%    64%    54%    63%    57%    63%    61%
No                   34     53     22     29     38     30     34     31     35
DK/NA                 8      9      6      7      8      8      8      6      5
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes                  62%    61%    55%    58%    59%    64%    83%    68%    38%
No                   34     33     34     35     34     30     14     25     52
DK/NA                 5      7     10      8      7      6      2      7     10
 
                                                 WHITE.............
                     Military      NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds        Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Yes                  55%           55%    67%    40%    46%    60%
No                   38            37     26     50     43     34
DK/NA                 7             8      7     10     11      6
 
TREND: Federal law currently prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you think this law should be repealed or not?
                     Nov 18  Feb 10  Apr 30
                     2010    2010    2009
 
Yes                  58      57      56
No                   34      36      37
DK/NA                 8       6       7
 
 
49. Do you think the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now, or should the U.S. not be involved in Afghanistan now?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Right thing          44%    64%    33%    40%    52%    37%    48%    29%    30%
Shld'nt be involved  50     31     62     54     42     57     46     68     63
DK/NA                 6      6      5      6      5      6      6      3      7
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Right thing          42%    48%    41%    39%    51%    52%    29%    40%    56%
Shld'nt be involved  55     47     50     56     44     43     65     55     39
DK/NA                 4      5      9      5      6      6      6      5      6
 
                                                 WHITE.............
                     Military      NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds        Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Right thing          49%           44%    46%    56%    54%    50%
Shld'nt be involved  47            51     47     39     40     45
DK/NA                 5             5      7      5      6      5
 
TREND: Do you think the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now, or should the U.S. not be involved in Afghanistan now?
                                                             RIGHT THING...
                                                             High    Low
                     Nov 18  Sep 09  Jul 21  May 26  Apr 22  Jan 14  Nov 18
                     2010    2010    2010    2010    2010    2010    2010
 
Right thing          44      49      48      49      56      59      44
Shouldn't be inv     50      41      43      42      36      35      50
DK/NA                 6      10       9       9       8       6       6
 
 
50. How often do you use a cell phone while driving a car - Very often, sometimes, rarely, or never?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Very often           10%    11%     9%     9%    13%     7%     9%     9%    19%
Sometimes            21     24     21     19     22     19     22     22      8
Rarely               38     42     33     39     38     38     39     38     37
Never                31     22     36     32     26     35     29     31     36
DK/NA                 1      1      -      1      1      1      1      -      -
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Very often           16%    11%     3%     8%     9%    18%    10%     9%    11%
Sometimes            25     26     11     17     24     26     24     19     22
Rarely               33     39     40     34     44     40     35     39     39
Never                26     23     45     40     22     16     31     32     27
DK/NA                 -      1      1      1      -      -      1      -      1
 
                                                 WHITE.............
                     Own           NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Cell          Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Very often            8%            8%    14%    10%    10%     8%
Sometimes            19            20     22     23     22     21
Rarely               39            37     39     39     41     39
Never                32            34     25     27     27     31
DK/NA                 1             1      1      -      1      1
 
 
51. The Secretary of Transportation recently said that he may push Congress for a national ban on using a cell phone while driving. The ban would include hands-free cell phones. Do you think that a national ban on using a cell phone while driving is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes, good idea       63%    56%    70%    64%    55%    70%    64%    64%    59%
No, bad idea         34     40     28     33     42     26     32     34     40
DK/NA                 3      4      2      4      3      4      3      2      1
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes, good idea       51%    62%    74%    68%    61%    53%    71%    63%    60%
No, bad idea         47     35     22     29     37     44     27     34     37
DK/NA                 2      3      4      3      2      2      3      3      3
 
                                                 WHITE.............
                     Own           NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Cell          Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Yes, good idea       65%           65%    59%    62%    63%    68%
No, bad idea         32            32     39     32     32     30
DK/NA                 3             4      2      5      5      1
 
 
52. How much do you think prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving would do to make the roads and highways in the United States safer, A great deal, some, not much, or nothing at all?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
A great deal         49%    43%    56%    47%    40%    57%    46%    63%    66%
Some                 31     32     31     33     33     29     34     20     21
Not much             13     18     10     14     18      9     14      9      9
Nothing at all        5      6      3      5      6      4      4      8      3
DK/NA                 2      1      1      1      2      1      2      -      1
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
A great deal         39%    46%    60%    56%    41%    38%    48%    52%    47%
Some                 30     35     29     27     35     40     31     31     32
Not much             20     15      7     10     18     16     15     11     15
Nothing at all       10      4      3      5      5      6      4      5      5
DK/NA                 1      1      2      1      1      1      2      1      1
 
                                                 WHITE.............
                     Own           NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Cell          Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
A great deal         49%           54%    36%    51%    46%    51%
Some                 32            28     40     31     33     33
Not much             14            12     16     14     15     12
Nothing at all        4             4      6      3      4      5
DK/NA                 2             1      2      1      1      -