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Slight Majority of New Yorkers Oppose Soda Ban.

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By Dan Bart | August 27, 2012 5:55 pm

A narrow majority of New York City voters oppose Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to restrict sales of big sugary beverages in city restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, according to a poll released on Wednesday. Opponents of the plan edged out supporters, 51 percent to 46 percent; opposition was strongest among older voters, white voters and voters on Staten Island.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found voters divided along political, educational and geographic lines over the proposal, which has attracted international interest and could become a major landmark of Mr. Bloomberg’s public health initiatives.

According to the poll, 55 percent of male voters opposed the ban, compared with 41 percent who supported it, while 50 percent of female voters supported the idea and 47 percent were against.

Slightly more than half of registered Democrats supported the plan, compared with 31 percent of registered Republicans. Voters with college degrees were closely divided on the matter, while voters without bachelor’s degrees were more likely to oppose the measure.

Support varied strongly by borough. In Manhattan, 55 percent of voters surveyed by Quinnipiac supported the mayor’s idea, with 41 percent opposed. A majority of polled voters in the other four boroughs said they were against the idea, with particularly strong opposition on Staten Island.

A slim majority of voters under the age of 50 said they supported the plan, but that support dropped off sharply among voters who were 50 and older.

The poll, conducted by telephone of 1,093 registered voters from last Wednesday to Monday, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Landlines and mobile phone numbers were called.

Mr. Bloomberg has said repeatedly that he is prepared to face initial skepticism from the public over the plan. He often recalls the early, fiercely critical reaction to his ban on smoking in city restaurants, which he introduced early in his first term. The ban has since been embraced by many in the city and widely copied around the world.

Voters who spoke with Quinnipiac were split over Mr. Bloomberg’s overall handling of public health issues; 47 percent approved, and 45 percent disapproved.

While the soda measure appears to have divided the city — or at least those residents who participated in the poll — there seemed to be widespread doubts that the plan, if implemented, would be effective at reducing the obesity rate, which is the administration’s stated objective. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said they did not think the restrictions would have an effect, compared with 39 percent who did.

Voters “doubt that a soda ban would do much to slim down public obesity,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

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