5/11/2017 Peter Durantine

Majority of Pennsylvanians Now Support Marijuana Legalization, F&M Poll Shows

For the first time since the Franklin & Marshall College Poll began surveys on the issue in 2006, the majority of Pennsylvania voters – 56 percent, according to the latest poll – support marijuana legalization. That is a 16-point increase from the last time this question was asked in 2016.

“Our poll mirrors the nation on this issue,” F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna said. “My sense is legalization is not for several years yet. We have a conservative legislature and Gov. [Tom] Wolf has said the state is not ready for it.”

A majority of independents and Democrats, 75 percent and 61 percent, respectively, support legalization, but only 44 percent of Republicans do, according to the poll.

The poll also reported voters’ views on President Donald Trump, who continues to have strong support among Republicans and conservatives, but whose 37 percent job performance rating, up 5 percent since the February poll, is lower than President Barack Obama’s at this point in his presidency.

“This is certainly a problem for him long term,” said Berwood Yost, F&M Poll’s chief methodologist and director of the Center for Opinion Research.

With Trump now in his fifth month in office, 47 percent of voters believe he is doing best at dealing with terrorism while 52 percent give him an “F” for how’s he’s dealing with climate change. Fifty-one percent give him an “F” for his protection of the environment.

The Republican president also earns an “F” from 45 percent of voters surveyed for his handling of health care, while 10 percent give him an “A.”

Wolf, meanwhile, has seen his numbers rise from last year with 41 percent approving the job he is doing in Harrisburg. The governor’s rating is comparable to former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, but better than former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, at this point in their administrations. 

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, who faces re-election next year, has a 38 percent job approval rating. Madonna said there is a caveat to Trump’s, Wolf’s and Casey’s numbers.

“The job performance rating right now is not indicative of whether they are going to get re-elected,” he said.

However, 50 percent of the state’s registered voters believe the state is “on the wrong track” and 22 percent believe government and politicians are the most important problems facing the state.

“In this state, we are hemorrhaging good feelings toward politicians and government,” Madonna said. 

Conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M from May 1 to 7, the poll reflects interviews with 639 Pennsylvania registered voters, including 307 Democrats, 243 Republicans and 89 independents. The sample error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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