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Capital poll

Sick time measure gets strong support

In a flip, voters oppose expanding bottle bill

If the election were held today, Massachusetts voters would pass a ballot initiative entitling employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of sick time each year, while the push to repeal the state’s casino law would fail.

Voters would split almost evenly on delinking the gas tax from inflation. And after a barrage of potent television advertising, now six out of 10 would oppose an expansion of the mandatory 5-cent beverage container deposit to new drink categories such as bottled water and sports drinks — a flip from just two months ago.

Those are among the findings of a new Boston Globe poll, which also shows the race for governor remains a tossup.


Republican Charlie Baker leads Democrat Martha Coakley 39 percent to 36 percent, within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Twenty-one percent don’t know who they are voting for.

The Globe survey of 401 likely voters, conducted Sept. 28-30 by SocialSphere Inc., echoes other polls released in recent days that have found the race to succeed Governor Deval Patrick too close to call.

Also on the bubble is a ballot question that would repeal the requirement that the state’s 24 cents per gallon gas tax be adjusted annually with inflation starting next year. Forty-two percent said they would vote in favor of Question 1, the poll found. Forty percent said they would vote against it, leaving the tax linked to the Consumer Price Index, which means it will go up as goods and services get more expensive. Almost 20 percent don’t know how they’ll vote on the gas tax question, which came about after the Legislature passed a controversial transportation funding package into law last year that included a 3-cent hike of the per-gallon gas tax and linking future increases to inflation.


Just over half of likely voters in the Globe poll — 53 percent — say they would vote to keep the state’s casino gambling law on the books, while 40 percent say they would vote yes on Question 3, repealing the law and prohibiting casinos from opening in the state.

Fifty-two percent of likely voters back the Question 4 effort that would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use up to 40 hours of sick time each year. Just under a third would vote against the initiative, which has become a point of contention in the gubernatorial race. Coakley says she will vote yes, while Baker says he will vote no. Eighteen percent don’t know how they would vote on the question, the Globe poll found.

More people have made up their minds on Question 2, the beverage container deposit expansion, also known as the “bottle bill.” Sixty percent would vote against expanding the deposit, 33 percent would vote in favor of it. Only 8 percent said they didn’t know how they would vote on Question 2.

The split is an inversion from August when a Globe poll, with slightly different wording, found 62 percent supported expanding the bottle bill, while 27 percent opposed it.

Currently there’s a mandatory 5-cent deposit on soda, beer, malt beverage, and sparkling water containers. If voters approve the question, the deposit would apply to drink categories not currently covered, such as bottled water and sports drinks. Among other changes, it would also require the deposit amount to be adjusted with inflation every five years.


Proponents say the expansion would encourage more recycling, reduce litter, and save municipalities money on litter cleanup costs. Opponents say it would increase costs and expand an outdated and ineffective bottle redemption system.

Those opponents have been working through a group called No on Question 2: Stop Forced Deposits, which has spent millions of dollars on a media persuasion effort, far outpacing the spending of groups that favor the expansion, according to state filings.

“You can see the effect of political advertising” said pollster John Della Volpe, calling the No on Question 2 effort “a work of art.”

The role of TV ads is also visible in the race for governor, he said.

Baker and Coakley will face off with the three independent candidates, who are each polling at 1 or 2 percent: Jeff McCormick, Evan Falchuk, and Scott Lively.

Baker is seen favorably by 51 percent of likely voters, the same number as in last week’s poll and an uptick from two weeks ago. Twenty-three percent have an unfavorable view of him. Coakley’s standing among likely voters is closer to evenly split, the poll found. Forty-eight percent have a favorable view of her, while 42 percent have an unfavorable view of her.

Baker has had positive ads boosting his candidacy in heavy rotation on TV since the Sept. 9 primary. That’s probably a factor in how respondents have come to see him, Della Volpe, the chief executive of SocialSphere Inc., said.


Coakley’s favorability ratings have been mostly static in recent weeks according to prior Globe polling.

Full poll results:

Summary results (PDF)

Full results (PDF)

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.