UD poll: Most favor legal weed, universal health care

DOVER — A majority of Delawareans continue to support legal marijuana, and a similar ratio backs universal health care, according to a new poll released by the University of Delaware Wednesday night.

Overseen by the university’s Center for Political Communication and conducted in the middle of September, the poll surveyed 995 Delawareans on several hot topics, as well as the favorability of a handful of state officials.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they back legalizing cannabis, the same percentage that answered yes in 2016. Legislation to allow recreational marijuana use failed to pass in the General Assembly this year, falling four votes short of approval in the House. The bill never received a Senate vote.

Nine states have legal weed, and Canada on Wednesday became the second country in the world to allow recreational usage. A June Gallup poll reported 65 percent of Americans say using cannabis is morally acceptable.

Asked if they favored “having a national health plan, or Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan,” 60 percent of participants said they do. When the question was phrased so that universal health care provided by the government was described as being available to “any American who wants it,” 68 percent voiced support.

“We kind of expected a difference like that, because with questions like these obviously how you word the question can matter,” said Paul Brewer, a UD communication professor and the research director of the Center for Political Communication.

The first question “makes it sound more mandatory,” he said, although he noted it still had a comfortable majority.

A November survey from Gallup found 56 percent of respondents characterized it as the responsibility of the government to make sure all Americans have health care.

Despite controversy over the past year involving a state proposal aimed at protecting transgender students, 75 percent of respondents said they support laws to prevent transgender students from being discriminated against.

The uproar over the proposal stemmed from a regulation regarding gender identity that was unveiled in fall 2017 by the state. The proposed policy would have potentially allowed students to self-identify as a different gender without parental consent.

It was modified after substantial outcry, but the changes failed to quell all the concerns and added new ones for some individuals, resulting in the Department of Education withdrawing it in August.

A majority of Delawareans have positive views of Gov. John Carney and the three members of Delaware’s congressional delegation, according to the survey.

Twenty-seven percent have a very favorable opinion of Sen. Tom Carper, while 39 percent have a mostly favorable opinion. Sen. Carper, a Democrat, is up for reelection this year. A poll released by the university last month gave him a huge lead over Republican Rob Arlett and two minor party candidates.

Fifty-five percent of respondents expressed positive views of Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat seeking a second term. Twenty-seven percent either said they are unfamiliar with her or refused to rate her.

The earlier UD survey reported 54 percent of Delaware voters planned to give her a second term, while 26 percent said they intended to vote for Republican Scott Walker.

Sen. Chris Coons and Gov. Carney, both Democrats who are up in 2020, also have positive ratings: 57 percent said they have a favorable view of Sen. Coons, while Gov. Carney’s favorability rating is at 63 percent.

The percentage of people with a positive view of Sen. Carper is mostly unchanged from 2016, although 23 percent view him unfavorably now compared to 17 percent two years ago. Both Sen. Coons and Gov. Carney have seen their net favorability ratings climb by 9 percent since 2014.

A majority of people said they had not heard of or could not rate Treasurer Ken Simpler, a Republican running for a second term who is often mentioned as a potential future gubernatorial candidate. Thirty-six percent said they see him in a favorable light, while just 10 percent shared disapproval of him.

“The poll’s results show that most Delawareans are satisfied with their state’s Democratic leadership heading into the 2018 midterms,” Dr. Brewer said. “But the findings also suggest many residents would be open to bolder progressive steps on public policy.”

The survey has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

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