New polls show public still not on-board with Boston Olympic plans

United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst, center, said in June that he hoped to see public support for Boston 2024’s bid grow above 50 percent “relatively soon.’’
United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst, center, said in June that he hoped to see public support for Boston 2024’s bid grow above 50 percent “relatively soon.’’ –AP

“We’d like to see it get over 50 percent relatively soon.’’

So spoke Larry Probst, the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, on the last day of June. The topic: the degree of public support the committee would like to see for Boston’s Olympic bid.

The USOC had just given a strong boost to Boston 2024, doubling down on its support for the bid—complete with a two-thumbs-up review of revised bidding plans from Boston 2024, which had been released to the public the day before.

Public support, however, still remained at issue. Buy-in from voters had not topped 50 percent in Greater Boston since January, a closely tracked series of polls from WBUR showed. Support sat as low as 39 percent statewide in June.

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How soon was “relatively soon’’ for Probst? Probably longer than a week and a half.

But within that space, two new polls came out. And despite the release of new bidding plans, as well as the USOC’s newly fastened support, they don’t show that Boston 2024 is close to that 50 percent mark.

WBUR’s latest poll, released Friday, finds a slight increase in Massachusetts support, to 42 percent. Fifty percent of respondents were opposed, compared to 49 percent last month. Both increases were within the poll’s margin of error.

Closer to the city, the poll found Greater Boston support at 40 percent, with 53 percent opposed. Support was a little higher in Boston’s boundaries, with 44 percent of city residents in favor and 48 percent opposed.

The WBUR tally follows a separate poll this week showing 37 percent support statewide, to 53 percent opposition.

All told, it doesn’t look like things have changed much since Probst spoke.

By September 15, the USOC must formally declare that Boston is its bidding city, to compete against Paris, Hamburg, Rome, and Budapest.

During the USOC press conference last week, officials did not directly say whether there’s any chance they would pull the bid before September. But if there’s an “or else’’ to Probst’s comments, that seems like a possible one.

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If Boston 2024 is seeking silver linings, the group can find some in the WBUR poll, which shows significant “soft’’ support and opposition. People are still open to reconsidering their positions. Plus, 63 percent said they hadn’t really paid attention to the release of Boston 2024’s new bidding plans—supposedly the key tool for changing minds.

On the other hand, 62 percent of those polled said the new bid had no effect on their opinion. And while 20 percent of the respondents classified as “soft’’ opponents said the new bid boosted their opinion of the bid, 15 percent said it lowered their opinion.

The 5 percent difference looks incremental for what could be considered the most crucial block Boston 2024 needs to persuade.

And Boston 2024 needs to do its persuading during the dog days of summer—a tough time to capture anybody’s ear.

Boston’s Olympic bid: The major players

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