Poll: Massachusetts Voters Split on Pot

Clinton holds wide lead over Trump in Bay State; Baker retains solid favorability

Massachusetts voters, who have favored past proposals to ease restrictions on marijuana, are tilting against its recreational use, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of Massachusetts likely general election voters.

Forty-six percent of voters say they would oppose a ballot question that would allow for the recreational use of marijuana among adults over age 21, while 43 percent are in favor, results that are within the survey’s margin of error. The proposal also would allow for creation of licensed dispensaries and for people to grow their own marijuana. A 2008 ballot initiative to ease penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and a 2012 question permitting medical use of marijuana both won with 63 percent of the vote.

“Massachusetts voters are turning over a new leaf on pot,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “With the issue of opioids in the minds of voters, traditional bases of support like women and union households are now opposing this measure by wide margins.”

Opposition to the marijuana ballot question is 10 points higher than support among women and union households. On the specific issue of individuals growing their own marijuana, 51 percent of union households were opposed, compared to 38 percent that approved. Women opposed the component of growing marijuana 55 percent to 34 percent.

Other issues-related results included:

  • 70 percent support a tax that would add 4 points on income over $1 million; 24 percent are opposed
  • 53 percent support transgender people using a bathroom that conforms to their identity; 30 percent are opposed
  • 50 percent support lifting the cap on charter schools in districts with the lowest test scores; 33 percent are opposed


Governor’s favorability

As Gov. Charlie Baker approaches the middle of his second year in office, he continues to be seen in a positive light, with a 66 percent favorable rating and a 12 percent unfavorable rating statewide. Last November, Baker’s favorability was 70 percent to 15 percent.

Presidential election

Probable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is well ahead of likely Republican nominee Donald Trump in a head-to-head Massachusetts matchup, 55 percent to 31 percent, with 11 percent undecided and 3 percent refusing a response. Women voters provided the backbone of Clinton’s support in the Bay State, preferring the former secretary of state over Trump 62 percent to 25 percent. Among men, Clinton led 47 percent to 38 percent. She led in every region of the commonwealth and in every age, race, and party affiliation category, except among registered Republicans, where Trump was favored over Clinton 68 percent to 14 percent.

Record of polling success

In the 2014 governor’s race, the final Suffolk University poll predicted that Baker would defeat Democrat Martha Coakley by 3 points. Baker won by 2 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2013 special U.S. Senate election predicted that Democrat Edward Markey would defeat Republican Gabriel Gomez by 10 points. Markey won by 10 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2012 election for U.S. Senate predicted that Democrat Elizabeth Warren would defeat Republican Scott Brown by 7 points. She won by 7.5 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2010 race for governor predicted that Democrat Deval Patrick would defeat Baker by 7 points. Patrick won by 6 points.


The statewide Suffolk University survey was conducted through live interviews of land line and cell phone users. All respondents indicated that they were registered to vote in Massachusetts and the survey of 500 voters was conducted Monday, May 2, through Thursday, May 5. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].



Greg Gatlin 617-573-8428