By Alicia M. Cohn - 06/11/12 09:00 AM EDT
Democratic voters are more than twice as likely as Republicans to back a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to ban super-sized sugary drinks in the Big Apple, according to a new poll for The Hill.
Amid national scrutiny over Bloomberg’s so-called Big Gulp ban plan, the national survey found more people in both parties opposed the mayor’s idea than endorsed it.
By contrast, 40 percent of Democrats said they liked Bloomberg’s call for restrictions on large sugary beverages. Forty-seven percent of Democrats oppose the proposal.
The results were part of a broader survey that revealed a national split over the role governments should take in regulating food and beverages for health reasons.
Overall, 40 percent of voters believe governments should do less when it comes to intervening in the eating and drinking choices of Americans.
Thirty-seven percent said governments should do more, and 16 percent believed government should keep the current levels of regulation.
The major differences in opinion relate to approach, with a significant majority of voters saying they prefer first lady Michelle Obama’s advocacy for anti-obesity efforts over Bloomberg’s proposal.
Sixty-five percent of people said they favor Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign efforts to combat child obesity by advocating for healthier food standards in public and private settings. Another 27 percent oppose her campaign, while 9 percent had no firm opinion.
The poll revealed mirror-opposite views on Bloomberg, with 65 percent of voters overall opposed to his “soda ban.” Just 25 percent favored the proposal.
The poll, conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points and a sampling size of 1,000.
Bloomberg attracted national attention when he announced a proposal late last month to restrict sales of soft drinks more than 16 ounces in size by restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas in New York City.
The ban would apply to drinks that contain more than 25 calories per eight ounces and would include exceptions such as beverages that are half milk. It would not apply to beverages sold in stores.
The proposed restriction was met with opposition by companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, as well as conservatives who criticized it as a step toward a “nanny state.”
Obama, for her part, has drawn a hard line between her work to halt childhood obesity and advocacy for specific legislative proposals such as Bloomberg’s ban.
According to Obama, she is not advocating a “one size fits all” strategy at the federal level.
“Let’s Move! is not about having government tell people what to do, because government doesn’t have all the answers,” Obama has explained when asked to address criticism of her attempts to put pressure on mayors, community leaders, and public school systems to implement nutritional standards and safe options for exercise.
Obama has also backed private-sector action to promote healthier food choices, endorsing a plan by Disney to limit junk food ads on its children’s TV programming.
The Hill Poll shows Republican support of Obama’s work is still lukewarm. About half of Republicans, 49 percent, said they favored Obama’s initiative, while 41 percent were opposed. By contrast, 82 percent of Democrats backed the first lady. Just 16 percent of Democrats oppose her efforts.
On the question of government’s overall role in regulating food choices, 53 percent of Democrats favored more intervention while just 23 percent of Republicans felt lawmakers should be more active.
While Obama describes her work as an effort to provide “tools” to parents who want to help their kids make healthier choices, Bloomberg has explained his plan means “forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision” to consume more than 16 ounces.