Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Smoking Ban and Public Opinion

A couple interesting notes on today's smoking ban vote in the NC House:

-Although it was largely a party line vote with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, almost a quarter of the votes did not fit that trend with 18 Republicans voting in favor of the bill and 11 Democrats voting against it. That unusual level of non-party unity may be a reflection of the fact that public opinion about the smoking ban is actually not particularly polarized along party lines. When we polled it in February 68% of Democratic voters and 62% of Republicans expressed support for it, not a particularly large disparity. This was not an issue where GOP representatives needed to vote against it to keep the base happy.

-Most of the Democrats voting against the bill represent districts in the tobacco growing country of eastern North Carolina, but our survey actually found a level of support for the smoking ban in that region equal to the statewide support of the bill. 64% of North Carolinians overall expressed approval for the proposal and so did 64% in the east. The place where we found voters much less supportive than overall was the Triad where it earned just 52% favorability.

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