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Ohio’s competing Issues 2, 3 vary in support, poll shows

Voters split on pot issue, but most dislike monopolies

Ohio voters are closely divided over whether to legalize marijuana on Nov. 3, but appear solidly in support of the issue that would invalidate the marijuana legalization amendment if it passes, according to a new poll by Bowling Green State University released Wednesday.

The BGSU poll of 782 likely Ohio voters found 44.4 percent in support of Issue 3, 42.9 percent opposed, and 12.7 percent undecided. That’s a tie because of the margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Issue 3 would legalize marijuana while setting up a monopoly for the commercial growing of marijuana, with the growers already identified in the proposed state constitutional amendment.

The poll also found that Issue 2, placed on the ballot by the Ohio General Assembly expressly to invalidate Issue 3 if it passes, has strong support at 55.8 percent, versus 30.4 percent opposed, and 13.7 percent undecided.

“Issue 3 looks like it’s going to be a nail-biter,” said David Jackson, professor of political science at BGSU. He and political science colleague Melissa Miller commissioned the poll through Zogby Analytics. The university’s communications office paid the $9,500 tab.

“Voters are ambivalent about marijuana legalization, but certain they don’t like monopolies. If the marijuana-legalization referendum fails and the monopoly-prohibition passes, that would indicate supporters of legalization made a significant strategic error pushing for legalization through the form of a monopoly,” Mr. Jackson said.

Curt Steiner, director of Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, said the BGSU poll confirms the internal polling of the anti-Issue 3 group.

“After all the money proponents have spent, they’re nowhere near 50 percent, and they’re going to be defeated on Election Day,” Mr. Steiner said. He said his group is about to begin television advertising, while ResponsibleOhio, the group trying to pass Issue 3, has been advertising on television for weeks.

Faith Oltman, a spokesman for the pro-Issue 3 group ResponsibleOhio, said, “We know the race will be close, but we’ll leave no stone left unturned and spend every moment leading up to Nov. 3 working for the change Ohio needs and deserves.”

The poll was conducted online Oct. 16-17 using methods designed to be statistically reliable. It surveyed 249 Republicans, 306 Democrats, and 249 independents. Of the 804 respondents, 782 commented on the two issues.

The poll dug into some characteristics of respondents and found that voters who identified as born-again Christians were the most strongly opposed to Issue 3, at 57.2 percent, compared with 46.4 percent of Protestants and 41.7 percent of Catholics. Voters ages 18-24 supported passage at 55.4 percent, compared with 44.4 percent for people aged 55-69. Only 43 percent of whites, but 58 percent of African-Americans, said they would vote in support of Issue 3, the university reported.

Respondents favored Issue 1, which would create a nonpartisan process for drawing Ohio House and Senate districts, by 54 percent to 13.9 percent, with 32.2 percent unsure.

Because of issues raised during the presidential campaign, respondents were asked if they would vote for a qualified female, Jewish, Muslim, or socialist candidate. Slightly less than 87 percent said they would vote for a qualified woman candidate, 76 percent for a Jewish candidate, 36 percent for a Muslim candidate, and just 31.5 percent for a qualified socialist.

The poll also asked voters about their attitudes about President Barack Obama, with 45.8 percent favorable toward the president and 47.2 percent saying they feel unfavorable toward him.

Mr. Jackson said this means that the Democratic presidential nominee will not be greatly burdened by being linked with President Obama.

Almost 56 percent believe the United States is on the wrong track, while 31.1 percent believe we are on the right track, the poll said.The state of Ohio is on the right track, according to 47.7 percent and on the wrong track in the view of 31.3 percent.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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