Cell Phone Use While Driving, Approval Ratings Examined in Last Poll

The last of five reports sharing results from a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute brings to light the way Vermonters feel about cell phone use while driving, and their level of approval for the jobs Governor Peter Shumlin and President Barack Obama are currently doing.

"Hang Up and Drive" is The Message from Vermonters in Latest Poll 

A strong majority of Vermonters (68 percent) say they would favor “making it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Vermont.”  The concern for driving while on the cell phone crosses party affiliation, with 65 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of Democrats favoring a ban.  Women are somewhat more likely than men to favor a ban (71 percent compared with 65 percent), and other demographic differences, such as income and education, only show small differences among groups.   

The public seems to be most divided on the issue by age. While 87 percent of the respondents aged 65  or older favor making it illegal to talk on the phone while driving (11 percent oppose), only 39 percent of the respondents aged 18 to 24 favor the ban (61 percent oppose). 

Cell Phone Use While Driving Graph

In a poll conducted for WCAX, WDEV, and Vermont Business Magazine in May 2012, the Castleton Polling Institute asked a sample of registered voters the same question about cell phone use while driving.  In that poll the Institute found that 80 percent of registered voters said they would favor such a ban.  

Castleton Poll Finds Steady Majority Support President Obama and Governor Shumlin

Finally, the most recent poll measured the approval ratings of Vermonters for the president and their governor.  Sixty-two percent say they approve of the job being done by President Obama.  For the sake of comparison, a poll from the Pew Research Center conducted in the same period as the Castleton Poll found that 51 percent of Americans, generally, approve of President Obama’s performance as president—11 percentage points lower than the average found in Vermont. 

A majority of Vermonters also have a favorable opinion of Governor Shumlin’s job performance; 60 percent of the public approve of the job that Governor Shumlin is doing as governor of their state.  Governor Shumlin has a significantly higher level of approval among republicans than does President Obama (37 percent compared with 19 percent, respectively).  Overall, 18 percent of Vermonters say that they have no opinion on the Governor’s job performance. 

Castleton polls in May and August of 2012 found solid electoral support for both President Obama and Governor Shumlin, and the May poll measured Governor Shumlin’s approval at 65 percent.  These figures, taken in combination with the election results of 2012, reflect strong public support in Vermont for the chief executives of both nation and state.

These data are based on 620 completed interviews, 130 of which were respondents reached by cell phone.  The interviews were conducted between February 6 and February 17, 2013.  For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-3.9 percent, although the margin of error is larger for questions involving subsamples of respondents.  While sampling error is only one source of potential survey error, precautions have been taken to minimize other sources of error for this poll.  The final data are weighted by age and gender to adjust for differences in response and to reflect the state’s demographics on these criteria. 

For more information about this poll or any of the work of the Castleton Polling Institute, please contact Castleton Polling Institute Director Rich Clark, 802-468-1306 or rich.clark@castleton.edu.

Review full results