Survey: Most Delawareans support legal marijuana

 

DOVER — Sixty-one percent of Delawareans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, according to survey results released by the University of Delaware today.

The poll, overseen by the university’s Center for Political Communication, offers a look at what voters feel are the most important issues and provides a glimpse at the public’s view on several controversial topics.

Only 35 percent of participants said they oppose legalizing marijuana. Colin Bonini, the Republican nominee for governor, supports legalization, while Democratic nominee John Carney does not.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, said at a meeting of the Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee earlier this week she aims to bring a bill to legalize cannabis next year, as first reported by a New Castle County newspaper.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents support increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15, a proposal some believe would help lift people out of poverty but others fear would lead to job losses and higher-priced goods.

New York and California are set to increase their minimum wages to $15 by 2018 and 2022, respectively.

Delaware’s wage floor is currently $8.25. Legislation to raise it to $10.25 in four 50-cent increments failed to make it out of a House committee earlier this year after passing in the Senate.

On this issue, the gubernatorial nominees are reversed. State Sen. Bonini opposes an increase, while U.S. Rep. Carney co-sponsored legislation in the House to bump the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over two years and tie it to inflation.

While marijuana legalization and a higher minimum wage fit in with the state’s Democratic lean, 55 percent of voters also support the death penalty.

“This is an issue where Delaware isn’t maybe quite so liberal,” University of Delaware political science professor Paul Brewer, who supervised the study, said.

The Senate passed legislation to repeal capital punishment last year, but the bill stalled in the House. In August, the state Supreme Court ruled Delaware’s death penalty statute as currently worded is unconstitutional, effectively striking down capital punishment.

Fifteen Republicans lawmakers, including Sen. Bonini, have said they intend to introduce legislation to bring back the death penalty next year. Rep. Carney said Friday he believes the Supreme Court’s decision should stand.

The survey also offers insight into what voters will be considering when they go to cast their ballots Nov. 8.

Twenty percent said employment is the biggest issue facing the state, while another 20 percent cited public safety. Ten percent called education their main worry.

A majority of participants expressed concerns over electoral impropriety: 66 percent said they were “very” or “somewhat” troubled over the possibility of voter fraud, and 61 percent said they had worries about the election being rigged.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has stirred up his base by saying the only way he can lose is if the election is rigged, and the Republican Party has for years stressed voter fraud as a possible concern.

Seventy-six percent of voters who back Mr. Trump said they are concerned about a rigged election, although a majority of supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton also are worried about a rigged election.

About three-quarters of respondents said they are troubled by the potential for political parties, campaigns or the state election system to be hacked. Tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee, believed by some experts to have been obtained by Russia through hacking, were leaked to the public in July.

The survey was conducted last month over the phone and involved 900 registered Delaware voters. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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