November 14, 2018

Hoosiers believe that hard drugs are a “very serious” problem in their communities but many are receptive to making marijuana legal for personal use, says the final results of the of the Old National Bank/Ball State University 2018 Hoosier Survey.

The telephone survey of 604 adult Indiana residents found the majority believes that communities should direct additional resources to treatment-related approaches and cracking down on drug dealers.

Additionally, 39 percent of respondents said marijuana should be legal for personal use, while 42 percent said it should be legal only for medicinal use. Only 16 percent said it should not be legal at all. If marijuana remains illegal, then only 16 percent said that people should serve jail time for possessing small amounts.

“In considering drug problems in their community, Hoosiers seem to consider marijuana as fundamentally different than ‘hard’ street drugs, such a methamphetamine and heroin, or commonly abused prescription drugs, such as OxyContin,” said Charles Taylor, managing director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State, which conducts the annual public opinion survey.

“They not only rated marijuana as less serious than these other drugs, but even rate it as less serious than alcohol,” he said. “Given this view, it is not too surprising that a large percentage of Hoosiers are willing to see marijuana legalized, at least for medical purposes.”

For the last decade, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs has conducted the Hoosier Survey to provide Indiana policymakers with a measure of public opinion on current issues facing our state and nation.

This non-partisan public policy survey is designed to take the pulse of the state on the most pressing issues facing Hoosiers. The results are delivered to every member of the Indiana General Assembly at the beginning of the calendar year so that lawmakers can gauge public views about issues they are likely to face in the coming session. 

The Hoosier Survey found that improving school safety, improving public safety and reducing crime, improving local public schools, and attracting jobs were Hoosiers’ top four priorities.

Other major findings include: 

  • About 24 percent of Hoosiers rate the state as an excellent place to live, a decline from 2012, when 30 percent gave the state an excellent rating.
  • Overall, 40 percent said that road maintenance had improved, compared to 18 percent that indicated it had worsened.
  • For the first time in several years, more Hoosiers reported that the quality of their local schools had improved than reported it had worsened, by a margin of 23 to 19 percent.
  • Satisfaction with the state’s job attraction efforts continues with 69 percent of Hoosiers approving. Satisfaction is lower, however, among Hoosiers in households with less than $30,000 annual income, at 64 percent, and higher among households with income greater than $75,000, at 74 percent.
  • A solid majority of Hoosiers continues to approve of the 10-cent gas tax increase and associated increase in vehicle registration fees. Overall, 55 percent approve, compared to 38 percent who disapprove. The state’s proposal to toll interstate highways, however, is much less popular. About 1 in 5 Hoosiers approve of tolling interstates.
  • About 72 percent of Hoosiers support increasing cigarette taxes; about 61 percent support increasing the smoking age to 21 years of age.
  • Only 37 percent of Hoosiers favor legalized sports betting as a revenue source for the state, compared to 50 percent opposed.

Governor Eric Holcomb has a 53 percent approval rating, with only 15 percent disapproving of his job performance. The Indiana General Assembly’s job approval rating is at 42 percent, about midway between the highest and lowest points measured in past years’ Hoosier Surveys. At 24 percent, disapproval for the General Assembly is near the lowest point measured since 2008.

“In recent years, gubernatorial and legislative approval have tended to move together,” Taylor said. “So, the drop in legislative approval is interesting when we compare it to Gov. Holcomb’s approval, which was virtually unchanged from last year. The legislature addresses so many issues in a session, that it is hard to say what might have led to the decline in approval. One possible explanation is what happened at the end of this year’s session. The clock ran out with important legislation remaining to be enacted and then they had to come back for a one-day special session.”

Survey Methodology
The Old National Bank/Ball State University 2018 Hoosier Survey obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 604 adults living in Indiana. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (316) and cell phone (288, including 184 with adults with no landline phone). The survey was conducted by Issues & Answers Network, Inc. (I&A). Interviews were done in English from October 2-20, 2018. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.