Lost in last week’s primary election were some other promising poll numbers for progressives. A Public Policy Polling survey found 3 of 4 Rhode Islanders would be more likely to support a candidate who would drastically decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and a Brown University Taubman Center poll found 55 percent of Rhode Islanders want to legalize recreational marijuana.
The PPP poll of 1,179 likely Rhode Island primary voters found that 53 percent of Rhode Islanders were “much more likely” to “vote for a candidate who believes the United States must do all it can to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels by embracing measures like solar, wind, and renewable fuels, like biofuels,” and 22 percent “somewhat more likely” to support such a candidate. Only 26 percent of Rhode Islanders don’t want to support a climate champion for elected office with 11 percent “somewhat less likely” to support such a candidate, 7 percent were “much less likely” and 8 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.
Even a majority of Rhode Island Republicans want to support a climate champion, the PPP poll found. A total of 63 percent of Republicans were more likely to support a candidate who would decrease dependence on fossil fuels, with 37 percent much more likely and 26 percent somewhat more likely. For Republicans, 27 percent were less likely to vote for a candidate who would invest in alternative energy and 10 percent of Democrats.
The PPP survey parsed its climate change question in terms of fossil fuels contributing to terrorism. It asked: “You may have heard about a connection between fossil fuels and terrorism. Even though the US doesn’t buy oil directly from regimes hostile to us and our allies, our demand for oil does drive up world prices, which benefits hostile regimes. Knowing this, would you be much more likely, somewhat more likely, somewhat less likely, or much less likely to vote for a candidate who believes the United States must do all it can to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels by embracing measures like solar, wind, and renewable fuels, like biofuels?”
The Brown poll posed a more straight-forward question about marijuana. “Thinking beyond medical marijuana, do you support or oppose changing the law in Rhode Island to regulate and tax the use of marijuana, similarly to alcohol,” it asked.
Much of Rhode Island does, with 55 percent answering yes. 21 percent strongly support taxing and regulating cannabis and another 34 percent support it. Only 4 percent were neutral, 24 percent oppose the idea and 12 percent strongly oppose ending prohibition. 5 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
Young Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly want marijuana to be legal, with 72 percent of people age 18 to 44 supporting the idea. Older Rhode Islanders were evenly split with 42.9 percent supporting legalization and 42.1 percent opposed. 56.3 percent of people age 45 to 64 support it and 37.7 percent are opposed.
The poll showed people were more likely to support regulating cannabis like alcohol the more education and income they had.
It also showed that white people were both more likely to support and oppose legalization than black people. 55 percent of white people polled said they support legalization and 36 percent were opposed compared with 50 percent of black respondents who support it and 30 percent who are opposed. Conversely black respondents were more than twice as likely as whites to either refuse to answer or remain neutral.