Roll of 'I voted' stickers.

ADA, Ohio - The Institute for Civics and Public Policy (ICAPP) at Ohio Northern University has released the Northern Poll, a web-based poll of 668 registered voters in Ohio taken from October 16th to October 19th. The margin of error is 3.8%. Dr. Robert Alexander and Dr. John Curiel led the project. Full poll results are available at /northern-poll.

Change in ballot language may have big effect on support for Issue 1

Advocates for Issue 1 were angered that the summary language facing voters at the ballot box was altered to include the phrase “unborn child” rather than the original language of “fetal viability.” To examine what effect this may have on support for Issue 1, we asked half of our respondents about their support with the original ballot language and half with the language now appearing on the ballot. We find majority support for both versions of Issue 1, albeit with 52% agreeing with the current ballot language and 68% agreeing with the original ballot language.

Much of the difference in support can be found among Republicans and Independents who are more supportive of the original language and less supportive of the current ballot language. Democrats show almost universal support for both versions (87% for each). Likewise, men are much more likely to support the original version of Issue 1, whereas women demonstrate little change in support for either version of Issue 1 (68% and 63%, respectively). The margins of error are appreciably higher for these specific questions because we split our sample to test the effects of the change in ballot language, so results should be taken with caution. Nonetheless, the change in ballot language will likely have an effect on the level of support for Issue 1.

Quote: “The framing of Issue 1 will be critical to its outcome. While we find relatively strong support for abortion rights, the actual ballot language of Issue 1 receives the lowest amount of support among the various ways we asked respondents about the ballot measure. Democrats show almost unanimous support for Issue 1 while Republicans are more divided.
- Robert Alexander, Ohio Northern University

Ohioans express consistent support for abortion rights

Strong majorities believe that abortions should be mostly legal (65%) and that the Supreme Court should not have overturned Roe v. Wade (57%). Notably, respondents are split as to whether they agree or disagree with Ohio’s current law on restricting abortion after 22 weeks (with few exceptions), with 41% agreeing, 38% disagreeing, and 21% unsure.

Quote: “Ohioans voice strong support for abortion rights, which is consistent with most every other poll conducted on abortion in the state over the past year. When faced with specific policy relating to abortion, respondents’ views are less firm.”
- Robert Alexander, Ohio Northern University.

Signs of support for Issue 2: Marijuana usage, lack of social stigma, and thoughts on the legalization of harder drugs

General support for the legalization of recreational marijuana is 65% among respondents, which is consistent with national surveys on the topic. However, this question was not directly asking respondents their support for Issue 2. In direct democracy elections, citizens tend to vote “no” on issues when they are given more specifics or are confused by ballot language.

Over half of our respondents say that a substantial portion of their social network uses marijuana. A surprising number (67%) indicate they have used some form of marijuana in their lives. The existence of medicinal marijuana in the state, along with the increasing number of states (such as Michigan and New York) that have legalized recreational marijuana has likely increased the number of respondents who have been exposed to or used the drug.

We find little social stigma associated with marijuana use. More than two-thirds of our sample (72%) agree that marijuana use is at least tolerable, with slightly less than a quarter (24%) finding it to be unacceptable. Most (82%) say that their opinion would not change if they found out a friend or family member used marijuana and only 9% said they would think less of them.

We find little evidence to support concerns that legalizing marijuana would serve as a gateway to harder drugs. We found very little support among respondents when asked whether they believed harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD/Acid, ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, anabolic steroids or prescription stimulants should be legalized.

Quote: “There has been a rapid rise in the legalization of recreational marijuana across the country and Ohio appears poised to become the next state to legalize it given attitudes we are seeing about the use of recreational marijuana in the state.”
- Robert Alexander, Ohio Northern University

Quote: “Although there is a lot of discussion about the legalization of marijuana in the state, we know surprisingly little about current marijuana usage and perceptions around it. Our findings suggest that most people have used it, some use it a lot, and most people are pretty accepting of marijuana use.”
- Robert Alexander, Ohio Northern University