A new poll, conducted on behalf of NuclearBan.US by the polling company, YouGov , reveals that 63% of Massachusetts adults – including 80% of those who identify as Democrats – support the establishment of a Citizens’ Commission to investigate and report on what measures may be necessary and appropriate to protect MA citizens from nuclear weapons. Only 16% say they do not support such a commission, and the rest (21%) are undecided.
The poll also reveals, in the context of recent nuclear threats made by Vladimir Putin and talks of nuclear escalation in Ukraine, that 65% of Massachusetts adults are either “somewhat concerned” (43%) or “very concerned” (22%) about the possibility of a nuclear war taking place in their lifetime.
The growing concern about nuclear war is reflected in the number of related bills and resolutions which have been put to the State House in Boston in recent years. All of them have so far been rejected. Two bills calling for the establishment of a Citizens’ Commission to look into this issue (H.3688 and S.1555) are currently stuck in the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The committee has until tomorrow (May 4th) to vote on them, or the process must start all over again in the next legislative session that starts in January 2023.
The bills were initially introduced in 2019 by State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton and State Senator Jo Comerford, representing Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District. This is already the second attempt to get them through to a vote in the Massachusetts legislature. Supporters of the bill argue that instead of “sending the bill to study”, which is the euphemism used by the State House to kill bills without having to vote on them, the State House should instead conduct a real study, and do some homework, before returning to this issue yet again in the next session of the legislature.
“It is the absolute least they can do,” says Timmon Wallis, Executive Director of NuclearBan.US, a small non-profit founded in Northampton, Mass, at the home of legendary peace activist Frances Crowe. Crowe died in 2019 at the age of 100, but not before submitting her testimony in support of these bills.
“This is no longer just about nuclear weapons,” says Wallis, “it is about basic democracy. A majority of the committee members clearly support these bills, and I believe a majority in the State House would also vote for them. We now know that a [sizable] majority of Massachusetts residents are also in support. And yet apparently one person on the committee can say no, and that’s the end of it. That is simply not democratic.”
The poll also found that 49% of MA adults (and 66% of MA Democrats) support the US adopting a policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons, with 22% opposed and 30% undecided. A slightly higher percentage (51%) think the US should work with the other nuclear armed countries to eliminate all nuclear weapons from all countries, in line with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This treaty entered into force in 60 countries on January 22, 2021, but so far the United States remains opposed to it.
The recent poll of Massachusetts adults was financed by a donation from Jamie Babson, of South Hadley, Mass. Babson was a fervent campaigner for peace and justice. He died last month at the age of 67, before the poll could be conducted. Campaigners across the state have been working hard to get these bills passed into law, and anxiously await the committee’s decision.
 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 400 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th – 29rd April 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are politically representative of all Massachusetts adults (aged 18+).