Civil Beat Poll - Voters Prefer Bag Ban to Fee04/24/2012
A full ban on plastic bags is preferable to a fee for Hawaii voters, according to The Civil Beat Poll.
Twenty-nine percent of registered voters said the government should ban plastic bags at grocery and retail stores, nearly twice as many as the 18 percent who said there should be a fee, the poll found.
But even together, the 47 percent in favor of regulation barely eclipsed the 43 percent who said the government should not regulate plastic bags at all. Ten percent said they were not sure.
Support for some kind of government action was weakest in Honolulu.
The automated telephone survey asked voters: "Do you think the government should regulate the use of plastic bags at grocery and retail stores?"
The poll of 1,162 registered voters in Hawaii conducted April 15-17 and April 22 has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.1
The survey was performed as the Honolulu City Council considers a range of actions to restrict single-use checkout bags. A bill up for final vote Wednesday in Kapolei could assess a fee on plastic bags, could ban plastic bags, or could ban plastic bags and assess a fee for paper bags.
The Demographics of Support
Political leanings had a dramatic effect on people's position on plastic bags.
Liberals and progressives favored regulations 68 percent to 26 percent, with 41 percent opting for a ban and 27 percent for a fee. Support among moderates dropped to 49 percent in favor of action (31 percent ban, 18 percent fee) and 43 percent opposed. Conservatives were vehemently against government intervention, with just 27 percent in support (18 percent ban, 9 percent fee) and 66 percent opposed.
Similarly, self-described Democrats favored some type of regulation, 62 percent to 31 percent. Republicans opposed, 29 percent versus 65 percent. All political and party subsets — even those that opposed limits in general — preferred a full ban to a fee on plastic bags.
Statewide, self-identified Hispanic/Latino, Filipino and Caucasian voters were most likely to support new rules — 57 percent to 29 percent; 49 percent to 31 percent; and 51 percent to 45 percent, respectively. Japanese voters were most strongly against any type of law (39 percent versus 51 percent) and Chinese voters were the lone ethnic group to prefer a fee (24 percent) to a ban (22 percent), though the margin is so small as to be a statistical tie.
Education level, age, gender and income all had negligible impacts on public opinion about plastic bag restrictions.
The Geography of Support
On Oahu, where the City Council is considering action, 24 percent support a ban and 19 percent support a fee for a total of 43 percent, while 45 percent want the government to stay out of it and 11 percent have no opinion or are unsure.
The difference between opposition and support is within the poll's margin of error, making the results a statistical tie.
Support for plastic bag regulation is strong on neighbor islands, where countywide bans are already in place on both Maui and Kauai. The Big Island County Council has passed legislation, though the ban has not yet taken effect.
Put together, the neighbor islands are happy with their bans, with 44 percent in support and another 14 percent saying they'd prefer a fee. Thirty-five percent say they want no regulation, and 7 percent are unsure. Maui, which was the first to pass legislation, has the strongest support, with 62 percent in favor of a ban. It's followed by Kauai (44 percent) and the Big Island (31 percent).
All three outlying counties had better than 50 percent support for some kind of regulation.
DISCUSSION: Do you think the government should regulate the use of plastic bags at grocery and retail stores?
Demographics By Voter Type
1. ABOUT THE POLL: Civil Beat surveyed a stratified random sample of 1,162 registered voters in Hawaii on the evenings of April 15-17 and April 22, 2012, using interactive voice response technology (touch-tone polling). Poll results were weighted for gender.
The sampling margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points. The margin of error indicates that in 95 percent of samples of this size, the results will be within +/- 2.9 percent of the actual percentage in the full population of registered voters.