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Marijuana Legalization Ahead, Charter Schools Lag in Poll

SPRINGFIELD — Sixty-one percent of likely voters say they support legalizing marijuana for use by adults ages 21 and older, while 34% say they oppose the plan, and 4% are undecided, according to the latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute.

The telephone survey of 417 likely voters, conducted Oct. 23 through Nov. 2, found that support for marijuana legalization has risen by nine points over the past month, while opposition has dropped by eight points. Likely voters favored legalization by a margin of 52% to 42% in a Polling Institute survey conducted Sept. 24 through Oct. 3.

Marijuana legalization is one of four statewide ballot questions that voters will consider on Tuesday. The Polling Institute also found in its latest survey that:

• 52% of likely voters said they oppose lifting the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts, while 39% support the proposal, and 8% are undecided.

• 65% of likely voters said they support a proposed ban on the confinement of hens, calves, and pigs in ways that prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limits, or turning around freely. Twenty-five percent of likely voters oppose the restrictions, and 9% are undecided.

• 50 percent of likely voters oppose allowing the state to license a second slots parlor in Massachusetts, while 32% said they support the plan, and 17% said they are undecided.

Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of Political Science at Western New England University, said the large percentage of voters who said they were undecided about licensing a second slots parlor in the state was unusual so close to Election Day.

“Our interviewers reported many instances in which survey respondents simply did not understand the term ‘slots parlor’ in the question,” Vercellotti said. “The ballot that voters will view on Tuesday has a lengthy explanation of the term, and the actual results of the ballot question could be very different from what we are seeing in our survey.”

In the race for the presidency, the Polling Institute found that Democrat Hillary Clinton is maintaining a sizable lead over Republican Donald Trump, 56% to 26%, with 8% of likely voters saying they support Libertarian Gary Johnson and 3% backing Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow Party nominee. The results reflected little change from the last Polling Institute survey conducted Sept. 24 through Oct. 3, in which Clinton led Trump by a margin of 58% to 26% among likely voters.

Looking past the election, more than half of likely voters — 54% — said they were very or somewhat confident that the country would unite behind the winner of the presidential election. But partisan differences also emerged in the responses to the question. Sixty-five percent of Democrats said they were very or somewhat confident, compared to 49% of Republican likely voters. Forty-three percent of likely voters said they were not very confident or not at all confident that the country would unite behind the winner, a sentiment voiced by 33% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans.

“Voters are slightly more confident than not that the country will unite behind the winner, but there is some disagreement depending on your partisanship and the candidate that you support,” Vercellotti said.

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