Newswise — BOWLING GREEN, O.—Ohio could be the largest state in the country, and the first in the Midwest, to legalize marijuana when voters go to the polls on Nov. 3. But according to a new Bowling Green State University statewide poll of likely voters, the issue is too close to call.

The BGSU Poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, surveyed 804 likely Ohio voters in the 2016 general election (249 Republican, 306 Democrat, 249 Independent). The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Issue 3 would create a monopoly for the commercial sale of marijuana in the Buckeye State.  When 782 likely November 2015 voters were asked their views, 44.4 percent said they support it, 42.9 percent oppose it, and 12.7 percent are undecided. Issue 3 remains too close to call when the sample is limited to “definite” November voters: 46 percent support legalization, 45 percent are opposed and 9 percent are unsure.

Issue 2 is closely related to Issue 3 and may determine its fate. Issue 2 would prohibit any person or group from creating a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit, and it looks to be headed for approval. Among likely November voters, 55.8 percent support it, while 30.4 percent are opposed and 13.7 percent are undecided.

“Issue 3 looks like it’s going to be a nail-biter,” said Dr. David J. Jackson, professor of political science at BGSU. “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.”

Religion is a key differentiator on Issue 3. Voters who identified as born-again Christians are most strongly opposed to Issue 3— 57.2 percent oppose the ballot measure, compared with 46.4 percent of Protestants and 41.7 percent of Catholics.

Age also differentiates opinions on Issue 3. Likely voters in the 18-24 year old bracket support marijuana legalization at 55.4 percent compared with 44.4 percent in the 55-69 year old bracket.

In terms of race, there are also key differences. Forty-three percent of Whites support the legalization of marijuana, versus 58 percent of African-Americans.

Interestingly, voters’ music preferences matter as well. Fans of hip-hop and classic rock are most supportive of legalization at 66.7 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively. Fans of pop and country music are less supportive at 43.5 percent and 41.5 percent.

“While demographic characteristics clearly play into one’s choice of favorite music, such a choice is also a decision about one’s identity and lifestyle, and can play an independent role in how someone views the world,” said Jackson.

Issue 1 is also on the November ballot. It would end the partisan process for drawing Ohio House and Senate districts and replace it with a bipartisan process. The ballot measure draws strong support among likely voters in November’s election. Fifty-four percent support the referendum, while 13.9 percent oppose it and 32.2 percent are not sure.

Women Candidates, Jewish Candidates, Muslim Candidates and Socialist Candidates

Likely 2016 general election Ohio voters were also asked if they would vote for a qualified woman, Jewish, Muslim or socialist candidate. Respondents were more likely to vote for a qualified woman and least likely to vote for a qualified Socialist candidate. Slightly less than 87 percent said they would vote for a qualified woman candidate, 76 percent said they were vote for a Jewish candidate, 36 percent for a Muslim candidate, and just 31.5 percent for a qualified Socialist.

“That only 31.5 percent of likely 2016 general election voters in Ohio say they would vote for a socialist is bad news for Bernie Sanders,” Jackson said. “On the other hand, while 42 percent say they would not vote for a socialist, 26.5 percent are not sure. Sanders could persuade these undecided voters that being a socialist isn’t such a bad thing, but it would be an uphill climb for Sanders in the general election.”

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students. The first set of results that break down candidate traits and who leads Ohio among primary voters can be found here.