A newly released poll by Muhlenberg College and U. Michigan surveyed Pa. public opinions on gun control, gas drilling, marijuana and health care.
The Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion polled 435 adult Pennsylvanians from April 1 to 13, 2013, via live interviews to landlines and cell phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.5%. 39% of respondents identified as Democrats and 34% as Republicans.
The delayed release of the results – which are nearly two months old – appears to be because the survey was part of continuing academic research. Two weeks ago, the pollsters released similar survey results from back in October.
Opinions of the poll’s respondents on firearm ownership regulations are inconclusive.
47% favor stricter gun control laws, while 6% favor less strict gun control laws and 44% believe the current laws are sufficient.
The public is also mixed, according to the poll, on the effect of stricter gun laws on the prevention of gun violence.
50% believed stricter laws would reduce gun violence while 48% believe they would do little or nothing.
In addition, those who responded to the poll had mixed feelings on the usage of more armed security guards to prevent gun violence in public places.
Respondents of the poll were strongly supportive, however, of a federal requirement for background checks for all potential gun buyers. 89% favored a federal law requiring background checks, while 9% opposed.
The poll’s results show that the public has mixed opinions on the degree of the risks of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, a process used to extract natural gas from underground. 42% believed it poses a health risk while 38% believe it poses minor risks or none at all.
While the public disagrees on the magnitude of the health risks of hydraulic fracturing, there is little disagreement on whether gas drilling companies should disclose the chemicals they use, even if they are a trade secret. 86% said they should be made to disclose chemicals. 71% believe the industry should be more strongly regulated.
May a margin of 44% to 34%, respondents said they think the media overstate risks of drilling.
As in the last UM/MC poll release, the premises of gas drilling questions were leading. For example the previous results found that the term “fracking” is strongly charged, yet the pollster employed the term in 4 of 5 Marcellus questions in this survey
The poll’s findings suggest that public opinion on marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania is mixed – but legalization still is unpopular. 33% support legalizing marijuana for any purpose, 40% oppose and 24% are neutral on the issue.
The public also disagrees on the effects legalizing marijuana would have on crime in Pennsylvania.
27% believed doing so would increase crime, 32% believed it would reduce it and 33% believed it would no effect on crime.
According to the poll, the public is generally satisfied with the quality of health care they receive. 88% said they were strongly or somewhat satisfied.
The public, according to the poll, believes that the following are to blame for rising health care costs: unnecessary medical treatments (64% believed it was a major factor, 22% a minor factor and 5% not a factor); drug and insurance companies “making too much money” (79%, 12%, 5%); “too many” malpractice lawsuits (64%, 22%, 4%); and doctors and hospitals “making too much money” (37%, 39%, 15%).