BOSTON >> Voters favor legalizing marijuana for adults and oppose a broad expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts, according to new poll results that could be a harbinger of a disappointing election day for Gov. Charlie Baker.
Disenchanted with both major party nominees for president, Baker has thrown some of his energy into campaigning for a charter school expansion and against the legalization of recreational marijuana. The new poll data shows the governor could wind up on the losing side of both issues.
The poll released by WBUR and the MassINC Polling Group found 55 percent of likely voters support regulating and taxing marijuana for adult recreational use compared to the 40 percent who oppose Question 4 on the November ballot. The widening gap in the past month over the issue comes as both sides are beginning to ramp up spending on advertising in the three weeks before the statewide vote.
Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also oppose Question 4. But even with their platforms, the political leaders are fighting a trend of support in the electorate for the gradual relaxation of restrictions on marijuana that started with decriminalization in 2008 and extended to medical marijuana in 2012.
On the issue of whether the state should be allowed to license up to 12 new charter schools per year, 41 percent of respondents said they would vote "yes" on Question 2, while 52 percent oppose the ballot question.
The poll, which surveyed 502 likely voters from Oct. 13-16, found that support for the charter school ballot question has plateaued at 41 percent from the month before while previously undecided voters appeared to be moving into "no" column. Opposition to charter school expansion climbed from 48 percent in mid-September to 52 percent in the latest poll as the number of undecided fells from 11 percent to 6 percent.
On the question of legalizing marijuana, the number of undecided voters remained solid at 5 percent while support for the question climbed 5 percentage points and corresponded to an equal 5-point decline in opposition.
The two other questions on the ballot next month would authorize another slot parlor in Massachusetts and prohibit the extreme confinement of farm animals, which critics have argued could lead to a slight increase in egg prices.
Voters surveyed in the WBUR/MassINC poll oppose the further expansion of gaming by a margin of 34 percent in favor to 58 percent opposed, while the farm animal confinement question would pass if the election were held today 66 percent to 28 percent.
The poll delved even deeper into how voters feel about marijuana.
While 84 percent of respondents said it would not bother them if people used marijuana in their homes, 64 percent said they would be bothered by people using pot in public places while 33 percent said they would not care.
Only 38 percent of voters said it would bother them if a store selling marijuana opened in their community, but 51 percent said they would be bothered if marijuana businesses advertised in public places in their communities.
Of those surveyed, about half said they had tried marijuana in their lifetime.