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Massachusetts Voters Lean Against Boston Olympic Bid

With a proposed referendum still more than 18 months away, Massachusetts voters are leaning against Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic summer games, according to the latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute. The telephone survey of 427 registered voters, conducted April 6-14, found that only 40% of voters support Boston’s bid for the games, while 46% are opposed and 14% are undecided. The sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points. The 427 registered voters were part of an overall sample of 499 adults, and among all adults sentiment was more closely divided; 42% of all adults support the proposal, while 43% are opposed and 15% are undecided. The sample of 499 adults has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The United States Olympic Committee has selected Boston as the nation’s entry in the competition to host the 2024 Olympic summer games. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to select the host city in 2017. With other polls showing public support for the bid in decline, the private group that is developing the Olympic bid, Boston 2024, has agreed that it will not proceed with the bid unless voters approve of the idea in a statewide referendum in November 2016. Organizers also have said approval must come from voters in the Boston area in the referendum in order for the bid to go forward for consideration in 2017. The Polling Institute’s survey found that opposition to the proposal was greatest in Boston and surrounding areas, where 48% of registered voters said they do not support the bid, while 35% support it. Support for the plan was highest in the four counties that comprise Western Mass. (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire), where 54% of voters favor the proposal and 34% said they are opposed.

The survey found a potentially ominous sign for Boston 2024 and other supporters of the bid. Voters who said they had heard a lot of information or some information about the bid were more likely to oppose it than were voters who had heard only a little or no information. Among voters who said they had heard a lot of information, 62% opposed the bid and 27% supported it. Among those who had heard a little information, 45% supported the bid, and 39% were opposed. Among voters who said they had heard no information, 51% supported the bid and 29% were opposed. “When you are trying to win public support for a proposal, you obviously hope your information is getting through to voters and that the information is persuasive,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University. “These results suggest that as people get more information, they are less likely to support the bid. Boston 2024 appears to be losing the public relations debate right now.” Male voters were more likely than female voters to back the Olympic bid, with 46% of men and only 34% of women saying they support the proposal. Support also was higher among younger voters and voters with less education. Among voters ages 18 to 39, 54% were in favor, compared to only 28% of voters ages 65 and older. Voters with a high school diploma or less backed the bid by a margin of 47% to 35%, while the results were flipped for college graduates, with 39% in favor and 47% opposed.

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