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BW Ohio Pulse Poll shows Ohio voters favor passage of Issue 1 and Issue 2

A majority of likely Ohio voters surveyed favor the constitutional protection of abortion rights and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

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With early voting underway and less than three weeks to go until the November 7 election, a Baldwin Wallace University Ohio Pulse Poll shows strong support for ballot issues enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution and legalizing recreational marijuana.

The BW Community Research Institute (BW CRI) survey also asked Ohioans for their opinions on gun control and to rate 2024 statewide primary candidates as well as President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and Ohio's two U.S. Senators.

Protecting reproductive rights

The BW CRI Ohio Pulse Poll shows 58% of likely voters for the November 7 election favor passage of Issue 1, an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would protect the right to reproductive freedom, including "access to contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one's own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion."

Issue 1 is favored by 89% of Democrats, 39% of Republicans and 51% of independents. In addition, 65% of parents, 54% of gun owners and 37% of evangelicals support Issue 1. Only 8% of respondents were undecided.  

Legalizing recreational marijuana

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A similar majority of 57% said they plan to vote "yes" on Issue 2, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana. Just 7% of respondents were undecided. 

Majorities across most demographic groups support Issue 2, including 66% of Democrats, 50% of Republicans, 59% of independents, 70% of parents and 71% of respondents ages 18-49. Almost half of self-identified evangelicals (47%) and respondents age 50 and older (47%) support Issue 2. 

"The majorities of respondents in these demographics favoring Issue 1 and Issue 2 indicate a strong likelihood of a majority vote for both ballot issues in November," said Dr. Tom Sutton, political science professor and director of the BW CRI. 

Low favorability, familiarity with GOP Senate candidates

Although all favorability ratings are below 50%, Ohio voters view former President Donald Trump more favorably than the sitting President, with 38% seeing President Joe Biden as "very favorable/somewhat favorable," versus 47% taking the same view of former President Trump.

Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown garnered a 44% favorability rating, while Senator J.D. Vance was rated favorably by just 36% of respondents. 

Candidates for the Republican nomination to run against Senator Brown next year need to increase name recognition. The "not familiar" option was chosen by 61% of respondents for Bernie Moreno, 56% of respondents for Matt Dolan and 43% of respondents for Frank LaRose.  

Voter turnout for November 7 looks to be strong

Cuyahoga County polling place

Interest in participating in the upcoming election is high. Some 67% of respondents said they were "certain to vote" on November 7, while 18% said they would "probably vote." A sizable number of those are voting early, with 18% casting a ballot by mail and 26% voting early in person. A little more than half say they will vote on Election Day.  

"Issue 1 and Issue 2 are personal for many Ohioans, which means that we can expect voter turnout will be much higher than usual for an off-year election only involving voting for local offices," said Sutton.  

Some 73% of likely voters said they voted in the August 2023 special election, almost double the 39% statewide turnout.         

Opinions on abortion mirror 2022

The 2023 Ohio Pulse Poll included sets of questions about abortion access and gun control that were also asked in October 2022. Opinions on the limits to legal abortion access were similar in both polls. 

The 2022 poll showed 27% favoring full access to abortion, while 24% agreed in 2023. Both polls showed 30% support for permitting abortion access with limits. In 2022, 26% preferred to only allow access to abortion in cases of rape or to save a life, which increased to 30% in 2023. In both surveys, 61% of respondents favored a state constitutional amendment to allow access to abortion, mirroring the 58% of likely voters who said they would support Issue 1.  

Opinions on gun control measures stable

Majorities of voters continue to support gun safety regulations with year-over-year changes within the margin of error.  

In both 2022 and 2023, a little more than three-quarters supported raising the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21. Support for the following measures also held steady in year-to-year surveys:

  • Background checks for 18–21-year-olds – 83% support in 2023, 85% in 2022. 
  • Red flag laws for law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from owners considered at risk – 72% in 2023, 75% in 2022. 
  • Limits on gun magazine capacity, 60% in 2023, 62% in 2022.  

Support for teachers being allowed to carry guns in schools, which is now legal in Ohio, rose from 53% in 2022 to 57% in 2023, while a ban on AR-15 semi-automatic weapons declined from 56% in 2022 to 52% in 2023.   

Sutton observed that "voter concerns about gun safety likely reflect awareness of the use of semi-automatic weapons by younger perpetrators of mass shootings in schools over the past year. This may also explain higher support for arming teachers."

Topline data report and methodology 

The BW CRI Ohio Pulse Poll of 850 registered voters (750 identified as likely voters) was conducted between 10/09/2023 and 10/11/2023. SurveyUSA administered the survey instrument online to a representative cross-section of self-identified registered voters in Ohio who were selected at random by Lucid Holdings LLC of New Orleans. Respondents were weighted to U.S. Census targets for gender, age, race, education, homeownership and by recalled 2020 vote. The margin of error for overall results was +3.5% for registered voter responses and +4% for likely voter responses. Larger margins of error for smaller sample questions (e.g., those on negative partisanship and demographic cross-tabulations) are indicated for each question.  

View the data report >>(pdf)

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