Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll Shows Mass. Voters Split on Charter School Ballot Question, while Favoring Marijuana Legalization by 7-Point Margin

Solid lead for Clinton; enthusiasm slim as Schilling mulls challenge to Warren

Massachusetts voters are split over Question #2 – which would expand the number of licensed charter schools and/or enrollment in the Commonwealth – according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of Massachusetts likely voters. Meanwhile there is a 7-point advantage in the pro-marijuana-legalization camp, although three out of five voters said that legalization would not change their usage habits.

The percentage of voters in favor and opposed to charter school expansion was exactly even at 45.4 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

“This question will be decided by these undecided voters, and Gov. Charlie Baker could have an impact,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “The politically popular Baker has put himself out front on the yes side, knowing that this question was losing by more than 10 points a few weeks ago.”

The pro-charter-school camp has begun airing ads featuring Baker, who looks straight into the camera as he offers his position. The governor is viewed favorably by 64 percent of voters and unfavorably by 12 percent. And as his first term nears the halfway point, Baker’s performance approval rating is 69 percent, while 10 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.

The undecided charter school voters are concentrated in Suffolk County (13 percent) and among independents, urban residents, Trump voters, and those who live in Middlesex/Essex counties (all at 11 percent).

Question #4, which would allow for the recreational use of marijuana and the regulation and taxation of marijuana products, was supported 49 percent to 42 percent, with 8 percent undecided. A majority of those polled said that they would be no more or less likely to buy marijuana products if pot were legalized. And 40 percent said marijuana is safer than alcohol, as opposed to 35 percent who said it is about as dangerous and 13 percent who said pot is more dangerous than alcohol.

Polling results on the other ballot questions showed:

  • Question #1, which would add a single slot machine establishment in the commonwealth, was opposed 57 percent to 30 percent.
  • Question #3, which would prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals, was supported 62 percent to 25 percent.

Presidential race

Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump 57 percent to 25 percent in Massachusetts; with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent; Green-Rainbow nominee Jill Stein, 3 percent; and 10 percent undecided.

Senate hypothetical

In a hypothetical 2018 U.S. Senate showdown, incumbent Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (58 percent) led former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a Republican, (24 percent), with 16 percent undecided.

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 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 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. The survey of 500 voters was conducted Monday, Oct. 24, through Wednesday, Oct. 26. 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].