Voters split on plastic bag ban, single-payer health care and congestion pricing in Manhattan

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Strong support for legal weed, “red flag” gun confiscation bill and raising the age to buy cigarettes

In a new Quinnipiac University poll, New Yorkers say they strongly support a “Red Flag” law that gives authorities the power to remove guns from the homes of violent people, legalizing recreational marijuana and raising the age to buy cigarettes and tobacco from 18 to 21.

New Yorkers also strongly support rewriting and recodifying the state’s abortion laws to protect doctors and patients, but they are split on other controversial proposals such as banning plastic shopping bags, creating a government sponsored health care system and a new toll for driving in parts of lower Manhattan.

The poll of 929 registered voters finds wide gender and racial gaps on the issue of banning plastic shopping bags, with 48 percent in support and 47 percent opposed, according to the poll which was conducted January 16 – 21.

Women support a bag ban by 53-to-44 percent, with men opposed 50-to-42 percent, the poll finds. White voters support a ban by 51-to-44 percent, with non-white voters opposed 50-to-43 percent. Support is 58-to-34 percent among Democrats while opposition is 61 to-36 percent among Republicans and 53-to-44 percent among independent voters.

Upstate voters support a bag ban 52-to-44 percent. New York City voters are divided with 46 percent supporting a ban and 49 percent opposed. Suburban voters also are divided, as 45 percent support a ban, with 48 percent opposed.

New York state voters support 84-to-12 percent a so-called “Red Flag” bill, allowing police, family members or educators to petition a judge to remove guns from a person who may be at risk of violent behavior. By a similar 82-to-15 percent, voters support extending the waiting period for gun purchases from three days to 10 days.

“Given that more Democrats support a ban on plastic bags, what’s surprising is that opposition is greater in New York City than it is in upstate New York,” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“A broad question about stricter gun laws in the state masks how New Yorkers rate individual measures. Only 29 percent of Republicans support the generic ‘stricter gun laws,’ while 90 percent of Democrats support them,” Snow says. “But when asked about specific proposals such as extending waiting periods on gun purchases, modifying weapons to make them fire faster, or the so-called ‘Red Flag’ bill, Republican support surges past 60 percent.”

On the specific question, “Do you support or oppose allowing the police, family members or educators to petition a judge to remove guns from a person that may be at risk for violent behavior?” 84 percent of all New Yorkers say they support the idea and 12 percent say they oppose it.

That specific bill gets the support of 67 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents, 78 percent of men and 89 percent of women. The legislation is supported by 77 percent of voters upstate, 89 percent of voters in New York City and 84 percent of the voters in the New York City suburbs.

There is a split between suburban and New York City voters on a “congestion pricing” plan that would charge a fee for cars and trucks entering the most congested areas of Manhattan and using the funds to improve buses and subways.

New York City voters support the measure 54-to-42 percent. Suburban voters are opposed 55-to-40 percent, with upstate voters divided 38-to-39 percent.

By a narrow 45-to-40 percent, New York state voters oppose establishing a single-payer, government-sponsored health care system. Men and women are almost identical in their opposition. Democrats support the idea 57-to-21 percent. Opposition is 76-to-13 percent among Republicans and 57-to-34 percent among independent voters.

If a single payer plan decreases health insurance costs while increasing taxes, voters remain opposed 50-to-42 percent.

Voters support 70-to-27 percent (with strong support from every listed party, gender, education, age, racial and regional group), raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products or ecigarettes from 18 to 21 years old.

New York state voters support 65-to-31 percent allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes. Voters also support 59-to-38 percent (with similar results among New York City, upstate and suburban voters) the sale of legal marijuana in their community.

However, 54 percent of voters say they “definitely” will not try marijuana if it is legal, and 58
percent are concerned that marijuana use will lead to increased auto accidents.

The Quinnipiac University surveyed 929 New York State voters from January 16-21 and the poll has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.