MANHATTAN— It's high times for pot in New York City.
More than 70 percent of voters approve of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to not arrest people caught with 25 grams or less of marijuana, but the racial gap over the mayor's performance continues to widen, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
The poll found that 71 percent of those surveyed approved of the decision to have police issue summonses for small quantities of pot, versus 26 percent who did not.
A majority of people, 70 percent, also believe that the new marijuana policy will not cause an increase in crime versus 27 percent who believe it will.
"It's a plus to keep a lot of people out of jail and make life easier on the cops," said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.
The poll also found that whites are growing more dissatisfied with the mayor while the approval rating among blacks continues to climb.
Black voters' approval for de Blasio is now at 71 percent, up from 65 percent in August, the poll said.
In January, 21 percent of whites did not approve of the job the mayor was doing. That rose to 45 percent in August and 50 percent in the latest poll.
“It’s a tale of two cities under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Black voters think the mayor is terrific. White voters don’t approve. And the racial gap gets wider every time we ask,” said Carroll.
De Blasio's negative numbers among white voters may be related to his close relationship to the polarizing Rev. Al Sharpton, Carroll added.
While voters found Sharpton to be the most important black leader in the city by far, 66 percent of white voters have an unfavorable opinion of Sharpton compared with 69 percent of black voters who have a favorable opinion.
Evan Thies, a political consultant who is the president of Brooklyn Strategies, said de Blasio's struggles with white voters had less to do with Sharpton and more to do with the mayor's policy goals during his first year in office, such as universal pre-K, reducing stop-and-frisk and raising the minimum wage for some workers.
"The mayor's agenda is clearly geared towards families and individuals who make less money and live in more difficult circumstances and those people in New York tend to be black and Latino more than whites," said Thies.
"After 12 years of Michael Bloomberg, white voters are not used to being excluded from the agenda, especially wealthy white voters," he added.
But because de Blasio polls well on issues such as education, his marijuana policy and crime, Thies says the mayor still has time during his first term to win over more white voters.