A new Massachusetts ballot question poll shows support for legal marijuana up, more charter schools down

09/17/2016 -Boston, MA-  Jon Napoli (cq) owner of The Hempest shows his support for the Vote Yes on 4 campaign at his booth during the Boston Freedom Rally on Boston Common in Boston, MA September 17, 2016.  The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/NORML Boston Freedom Rally promotes the legalization of marijuana. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the rally Saturday and Sunday, which has gathered annually for over two decades. It includes musical acts and political messages in support of the legalization of marijuana.(Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff) section: metro reporter:
A supporter of the Vote Yes on 4 campaign holds a sign during a rally on Boston Common last month. –Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe

Less than three weeks out from Election Day—and just days before early voting begins in Massachusetts—a new WBUR poll is previewing how the state’s four ballot questions may fare at the ballot box.

For supporters of the referendums to legalize marijuana and ban the sale of produce from animals in small cages, respectively, Wednesday’s poll is good news.

For supporters of lifting the cap on charter schools and allowing a new slots parlor in Massachusetts, less so.

The biggest change, however, is in the support for legalizing recreational marijuana. Since WBUR conducted the same poll last month, net support for Question 4 has increased by 10 percentage points. Fifty-five percent of likely Massachusetts voters said they would vote “yes” to legalize marijuana for people 21 or older, compared to just 40 percent who said they would vote “no.”

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Asked about their relative comfort with marijuana, 84 percent of respondents said it wouldn’t bother them if others used the drug in their homes, versus 14 percent who said it would. On the flip side, 64 percent of likely voters said marijuana use in public places would bother them, while 33 percent said it would not.

Fifty-nine percent said it would not bother them if a store selling recreational marijuana opened in their community.

WBUR’s poll comes the same day as Gallup poll, which found national support for legal marijuana was up to 60 percent.

Support for Question 3, a ballot question which would ban the sale or production of animals in small cages, retained even higher in-state support. WBUR’s poll found, as it did in September, that 66 percent of likely voters support the initiative—more than double the percentage of the question’s opponents.

Continuing to work backwards through the questions, support for Question 2, which proposes raising the state’s cap on charter schools, remains underwater. Fifty-two percent of voters said they plan to vote “no” on the question, a slight increase from the 48 percent who said opposed the measure in September. Meanwhile, support for raising the charter school cap remains at 41 percent, nine percentage points below the required threshold to pass.

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Faring the worst of the four measures, according to WBUR’s poll, is Question 1, which asks residents to allow a second slots parlor (proposed to be built next to Suffolk Downs) in Massachusetts. Compared to September’s poll, net support fell from -15 percentage points (37 percent support to 52 percent oppose) to -24 percentage points (34 percent support to 58 percent oppose).

WBUR’s poll surveyed 502 likely Massachusetts voters from last Thursday to Sunday. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. For more on how the numbers broke down across demographic groups or political party lines, click over to the poll’s crosstabs.

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