Mass. Voters Say No to Tax Repeal, Yes to Pot, Maybe to Dogs

A majority of Massachusetts voters oppose Ballot Question #1, which would reduce and ultimately eliminate the state income tax, according to a new survey conducted by Suffolk University/7NEWS.

Fifty-nine percent would vote “no” on the measure, 26 percent favor it, and 14 percent were undecided. The opposition has grown dramatically since an August poll showed the “no” side prevailing by only 14 points, 50 percent to 36 percent.

 "The recent television and radio ad buys from the "No on 1" campaign have made a significant impact on the electorate," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University. "The margin was much closer back in August when no ads were running."

Decriminalization support ebbing

Question #2 -- the decriminalization of marijuana -- earns 51 percent support, while 32 percent oppose it, and 16 percent were undecided. Although this question enjoys a 19 percent advantage, the lead has diminished significantly from the near-50 percent margin found in the August poll. Many district attorneys and law enforcement officials have mobilized behind the “no” side, closing the gap somewhat. The proposed law would replace the criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil penalty of forfeiture of the marijuana and a fine of $100. 

"The ‘no’ side has gained momentum over the past two months,” said Paleologos. “The issue is whether the brass and blue will be able to move enough additional voters to their side in twelve days."

Dog Racing a toss-up

Question #3, which would, prohibit any type of dog racing in Massachusetts that entailed wagering on the speed or ability of the dog, won support from 44 percent of voters polled, while 43 percent opposed, and 13 percent were undecided. 

"This question will literally come right down to the wire,” said Paleologos. “In August the anti-dog-racing side had the edge, but now it looks like we’re headed for a photo finish."

Tax increase expected

On the state budget front, voters are bracing for an increase in taxes to help solve the budget crisis. When voters were asked if they thought the state would have to raise taxes to deal with the fiscal problems, 59 percent said yes, 28 percent no, and 12 percent were undecided.

Although he is personally popular (57 percent favorable - 23 percent unfavorable), Gov. Deval Patrick was given an average rating for his performance during the budget crisis. Fifty-three percent graded him average, 18 percent below average, and 16 percent above average.

Wide lead for Obama

In the presidential race, Democrat Barack Obama enjoys a 19-point lead over Republican nominee John McCain in Massachusetts. Obama was the choice of 53 percent of respondents, while McCain secured 34 percent and independent Ralph Nader 3 percent. Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Libertarian Bob Barr and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney each captured 1 percent. Seven percent were undecided. 

In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic Sen. John Kerry (56 percent) is crushing Republican opponent Jeffrey Beatty (19 percent) and Libertarian Robert Underwood (6 percent), with 18 percent undecided.


The Suffolk University/7NEWS poll was conducted Monday, Oct. 20, 2008, through Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008. The margin of error on the study of 400 is +/- 4.9 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the statewide survey were registered voters form all parties in Massachusetts. Marginals and 135 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.