February 4, 2010 - New York State Voters High On Medical Marijuana, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Freeze State Workers' Pay, Voters Say 3-1

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Medical marijuana is a "good idea," New York State voters say 71 - 25 percent, with support among all political, racial and regional groups, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Even Republicans say 55 - 41 percent that adults should be allowed to use marijuana if their doctor prescribes it, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Support is strongest, 75 - 20 percent, among voters 45 to 64 years old, while voters over 65 support the idea 63 - 32 percent.

New York State voters oppose 57 - 40 percent the so-called "fat tax" proposal to tax non-diet sugary soft drinks. Democrats support the idea 53 - 44 percent, but opposition is 76 - 22 percent among Republicans and 59 - 39 percent among independent voters. New York City voters oppose the measure by a slim 50 - 47 percent, but opposition is wider among suburban and upstate voters.

The state's budget problems are "very serious," 81 percent of voters say, while 15 percent say the problems are "somewhat serious."

Only 9 percent of voters say the State Legislature has the courage to deal with difficult budget problems, while 84 percent expect "it will be business as usual in Albany."

"It hasn't attracted a lot of attention, but New York State voters would like to emulate their New Jersey neighbors and approve medical use of marijuana," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters of every age have entered the Age of Aquarius.

"It has attracted a lot of attention, but voters don't like Gov. David Paterson's fat-tax plan."

"Just about everyone agrees: New York is in tough shape fiscally," Carroll added. "Who's to blame? It's a split verdict, among Paterson and both parties in the Legislature. Voters doubt that legislators have the courage to do much about it."

New York State voters support term limits for Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller 77 - 18 percent and support term limits for state legislators 78 - 18 percent. Support for each measure is strong among all groups.

By a 58 - 30 percent margin, voters say cut services to balance the state budget, rather than raise taxes. But voters oppose 78 - 19 percent cutting state aid to public schools. Opposition to cuts in school aid is strong among all groups.

"For policy wonks, New York State's big school bill is a logical target for cuts. Not for voters, the schools are a herd of sacred cows," Carroll said.

A wage freeze for state workers wins 75 - 20 percent support among all New York State voters, including 68 - 25 percent among Democrats.

By a smaller 52 - 40 percent margin, voters support layoffs or furloughs for state workers to balance the budget. Democrats oppose the move 50 - 41 percent, but it wins 63 - 29 percent support among Republicans and 57 - 37 percent support among independent voters. Men support layoffs/furloughs 59 - 34 percent, but women split 46 - 46 percent.

"State employees are in the cross hairs. Layoffs win a small majority as a budget-balancer and a wage freeze wins a big 3-1 majority," Carroll said.

From January 27 - February 1, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,182 New York State registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and nationwide 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.

24. Who would you like to control the state senate - the Democrats or the Republicans?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Democrats            47%     4%    89%    34%    43%    51%    37%    84%
Republicans          33     87      2     34     38     30     42      5
DK/NA                20      9      9     33     20     20     21     11
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Democrats            56%    36%    38%    63%    37%
Republicans          22     40     37     21     45
DK/NA                21     25     24     16     18
 
TREND: Who would you like to control the state senate - the Democrats or the Republicans?
                     Feb 4   Jun 22
                     2010    2009
 
Democrats            47      50
Republicans          33      30
DK/NA                20      20
 
 
25. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose setting limits on the number of years New York State's Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller can hold office?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Favor                77%    81%    71%    79%    74%    79%    78%    74%
Oppose               18     16     22     17     21     16     18     22
DK/NA                 5      4      7      4      5      5      5      4
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Favor                79%    79%    79%    75%    75%
Oppose               12     16     15     20     22
DK/NA                10      5      6      5      3
 
 
26. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose setting limits on the number of years members of the state legislature can hold office?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Favor                78%    79%    73%    82%    75%    81%    79%    75%
Oppose               18     17     20     16     21     15     17     21
DK/NA                 4      4      6      2      4      4      4      4
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Favor                80%    82%    81%    78%    73%
Oppose               15     13     13     19     25
DK/NA                 5      5      5      4      2
 
 
27. Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Paterson is handling the state budget?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Approve              33%    21%    39%    35%    41%    26%    32%    48%
Disapprove           57     69     49     58     51     62     59     44
DK/NA                10     10     12      7      7     12      9      8
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Approve              33%    32%    32%    36%    30%
Disapprove           56     61     60     53     57
DK/NA                11      8      8     10     12
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Paterson is handling the state budget? (*handled the state budget)
                     Feb 4   Aug 18  Apr 6   Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Apr 17
                     2010    2009    2009    2009    2009    2008    2008*
 
Approve              33      25      19      36      42      40      52
Disapprove           57      61      70      45      43      46      18
DK/NA                10      15      11      19      15      14      29
 
 
28. How serious do you think New York State's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Very serious         81%    83%    75%    85%    80%    82%    83%    75%
Smwht serious        15     13     18     13     16     13     15     16
Not too serious       3      3      4      1      3      3      1      3
Not at all serious    1      1      1      -      1      1      -      4
DK/NA                 1      -      2      -      -      1      -      1
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Very serious         83%    86%    86%    79%    76%
Smwht serious        15     12     12     15     20
Not too serious       -      1      1      4      4
Not at all serious    2      1      1      1      -
DK/NA                 -      -      -      1      1
 
TREND: How serious do you think New York State's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious? (*Combined high also 96% Dec 2008 / **Combined low also 92% Dec 2002)
                                                             VERY+SMWHT SAT
                                                             High    Low
                     Feb 4   Aug 18  Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Feb 4   Nov 6
                     2010    2009    2009    2009    2008    2010    2003*
 
Very serious         81      65      69      74      71      81      62
Smwht serious        15      28      26      21      25      15      30
Not too serious       3       5       4       2       3       3       5
Not at all serious    1       1       -       1       -       1       1
DK/NA                 1       1       1       1       1       1       1
 
 
29. Who do you think is most to blame for New York State's budget problems - Governor Paterson, the Republicans in the state legislature or the Democrats in the state legislature?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Gov Paterson         13%    16%    15%    10%    10%    16%    15%     9%
Reps in leg          24      4     44     18     23     26     18     50
Dems in leg          24     53      6     27     32     18     29      8
DK/NA                38     27     35     45     35     41     38     33
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Gov Paterson         15%    19%    18%     9%    11%
Reps in leg          22     16     17     36     20
Dems in leg          24     25     25     18     34
DK/NA                39     40     40     37     36
 
 
30. Do you think the state legislature has the political courage to make unpopular budgetary decisions or do you think it will be business as usual in Albany?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Has courage           9%    11%    11%     7%     8%    11%    10%    10%
Business as usual    84     84     80     88     88     80     85     81
DK/NA                 7      6      9      4      4      9      6      9
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Has courage           8%     9%     9%     9%    11%
Business as usual    83     86     86     82     84
DK/NA                 9      5      5      9      5
 
TREND: Do you think the state legislature has the political courage to make unpopular budgetary decisions or do you think it will be business as usual in Albany?
                     Feb 4   Aug 18  Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2010    2009    2009    2009
 
Has courage           9       8      18      20
Business as usual    84      87      74      71
DK/NA                 7       5       8       9
 
 
31. To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Raising taxes        30%    12%    45%    25%    24%    35%    23%    50%
Cutting services     58     81     40     63     67     51     66     37
DK/NA                12      7     15     12      9     14     11     13
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Raising taxes        41%    20%    23%    42%    22%
Cutting services     47     68     65     45     67
DK/NA                13     12     12     13     11
 
TREND: To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer - raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Feb 4   Aug 18  Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 6
                     2010    2009    2009    2009    2008    2008
 
Raising taxes        30      33      34      30      36      32
Cutting services     58      54      51      56      53      56
DK/NA                12      13      15      14      11      12
 
 
32. To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose layoffs or furloughs for state employees?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              52%    63%    41%    57%    59%    46%    58%    37%
Oppose               40     29     50     37     34     46     34     58
DK/NA                 8      9      9      6      6      9      8      5
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              49%    57%    56%    46%    55%
Oppose               41     35     36     48     36
DK/NA                10      8      8      7      9
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose - layoffs or furloughs for state employees?
                     Feb 4   Dec 16
                     2010    2009
 
Support              52      44
Oppose               40      47
DK/NA                 8       9
 
 
33. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose a wage freeze for state workers?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              75%    79%    68%    81%    77%    73%    79%    67%
Oppose               20     15     25     16     20     21     16     27
DK/NA                 5      6      7      3      4      6      5      6
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              74%    79%    78%    70%    77%
Oppose               19     17     17     25     17
DK/NA                 7      4      4      5      6
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose a wage freeze for state workers?
                     Feb 4   Dec 16
                     2010    2009
 
Support              75      68
Oppose               20      28
DK/NA                 5       5
 
 
34. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose cutting state aid to public schools?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              19%    32%    11%    21%    25%    14%    23%    10%
Oppose               78     66     87     77     72     83     74     89
DK/NA                 2      3      2      2      2      2      3      1
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              22%    23%    23%    14%    22%
Oppose               72     75     74     85     75
DK/NA                 5      2      3      1      3
 
 
35. There is a proposal for an "obesity tax" or a "fat tax" on non-diet sugary soft drinks. Do you support or oppose such a measure?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              40%    22%    53%    39%    39%    42%    38%    49%
Oppose               57     76     44     59     59     55     60     46
DK/NA                 2      1      3      2      2      3      2      5
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              43%    34%    35%    47%    38%
Oppose               53     63     62     50     60
DK/NA                 4      2      3      2      2
 
TREND: There is a proposal for an "obesity tax" or a "fat tax" on non-diet sugary soft drinks. Do you support or oppose such a measure?
                     Feb 4   Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2010    2009    2009    2008
 
Support              40      31      32      37
Oppose               57      65      64      60
DK/NA                 2       3       3       3
 
 
36. Which would you say that you drink more often - diet soft drinks or regular, non-diet soft drinks?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Diet soft drinks     32%    38%    28%    32%    34%    30%    37%    16%
Regular              37     37     40     35     39     35     32     57
DK/NA                32     25     32     33     27     35     32     27
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Diet soft drinks     32%    35%    35%    26%    35%
Regular              39     33     34     42     33
DK/NA                29     32     31     32     32
 
TREND: Which would you say that you drink more often - diet soft drinks or regular, non-diet soft drinks?
                     Feb 4   Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2010    2009    2009    2008
 
Diet                 32      29      30       31
Regular              37      37      40       38
DK/NA                32      35      30       31
 
 
37. There is a proposal in the state legislature that would allow adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Good idea            71%    55%    78%    73%    71%    71%    72%    68%
Bad idea             25     41     19     23     25     24     24     30
DK/NA                 4      4      3      4      3      5      4      2
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Good idea            76%    68%    69%    72%    73%
Bad idea             22     27     26     25     22
DK/NA                 2      5      4      4      6
 
                     AGE IN YEARS.............
                     18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Good idea            73%    73%    75%    63%
Bad idea             23     24     20     32
DK/NA                 3      3      5      6