Attempt To Repeal Casino Law Lagging In Massachusetts

Posted October 1, 2014

More than half of likely voters say they would vote no on proposed casino ban

A majority of voters say they would vote against a ballot question outlawing casinos in Massachusetts, according to the latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute.

The telephone survey of 416 likely voters, conducted Sept. 20 - 28, found that 52 percent said they would vote no, while 41 percent said they would support the ballot initiative. Six percent said they were undecided, while one percent declined to give an answer.

The likely voters were part of a larger sample of 536 registered voters. When taking into account all registered voters in the survey, the casino ban lagged by 16 points, with 54 percent saying they would vote no and 38 percent saying they would vote yes. The margin of sampling error for the sample of 536 registered voters was plus or minus four percentage points, and the margin of error for the sample of 416 likely voters was plus or minus five percentage points. tim_vercellotti_web.jpg

“With five weeks until Election Day, the repeal forces have their work cut out for them,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University. “It is possible to close an 11-point gap, but with the undecided percentage in the single digits, the pro-repeal activists are going to have to convert some no votes to the yes side in order to prevail.”

Voters will decide on Nov. 4 whether to overturn a 2011 state law that authorized licensing up to three casinos – one in each of three regions in the state -- and one slots parlor for the entire state. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has awarded casino licenses to developers in Springfield and Everett, as well as a license for a slots parlor in Plainville.

Repeal the Casino Deal, a nonpartisan organization that was formed to overturn the law, gathered signatures and convinced the state Supreme Judicial Court that the issue should go to the voters  as a ballot initiative. The Polling Institute used language from the ballot question in its survey, asking respondents:

“Voters also will vote on a ballot question regarding a state law that allows the state to license up to three casinos in Massachusetts. A yes vote on the ballot question would prohibit casinos, any gaming establishment with slot machines, and wagering on simulcast greyhound races in Massachusetts. A no vote would make no change in the current laws regarding gaming. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on the ballot question?” 

No outpaced yes by double digits across numerous demographic categories among likely voters. Men and women were more likely to say they would vote no as opposed to yes by margins of 52 percent to 42 percent for men and 51 percent to 41 percent for women. No led yes by 12 points among Republicans and independent voters, and by nine points among Democrats. 

Click here to view complete poll results.

Support varied by education and household income. No received greater support among respondents with only high school diplomas (55 percent to 32 percent for yes) or some college (61 percent to 37 percent), while college graduates supported no over yes by a much narrower margin, 47 percent to 45 percent. The gap between yes and no also was smallest among likely voters with annual family incomes of $100,000 or more, with 50 percent saying they would vote no and 45 percent saying they would vote yes. In contrast, no led yes by 15 percentage points among voters with annual family incomes of under $35,000, 50 percent to 35 percent

Among the three regions that would host casinos, likely voters in Region C, which includes the South Shore and Cape Cod, were most likely to say they would vote no, 56 percent to 40 percent. In Region A, which is made up of the Boston area, the North Shore and Central Massachusetts, no led yes by 51 percent to 40 percent. In Region B, made up of the four counties in Western Massachusetts, yes led no by five points, 50 percent to 45 percent. 

Roman Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts have spoken in favor of repealing the casino law, and have urged voters to vote yes on the ballot question. But the poll found that a majority of likely voters who identified themselves as Catholic said they would vote no (53 percent) as opposed to yes (41 percent). The gap was narrower among Protestant likely voters, with 48 percent saying they would vote no and 45 percent saying they would vote yes. 

Vercellotti noted that the Catholic Church was credited with helping to convince voters to defeat a ballot question that would have allowed physician-assisted suicide in the state in 2012.  Fifty-five percent of Massachusetts voters who turned out in that election identified themselves as Catholic, according to exit polling sponsored by the National Election Pool. The defeat came after the question had led in polls for several months leading up to the election.

“So far the data do not indicate that Catholic voters as a group are behaving any differently than voters in general when it comes to the casino ballot question,” Vercellotti said. “Either the message from the bishops has not gotten through, or it has not resonated in a significant way. But ballot initiative campaigns have been known to take dramatic turns, and there is still plenty of time for the numbers to shift on this issue.”

 

METHODOLOGY

The Western New England University Polling Institute survey consists of telephone interviews with 598 adults ages 18 and older drawn from across Massachusetts using random-digit-dialing Sept. 20 – 28, 2014. The sample yielded 536 adults who said they are registered to vote in Massachusetts. Of those registered voters, 416 voters were classified as likely to vote in the Nov. 4, 2014 election.  Voters were classified as likely voters based on their responses to questions about likelihood of voting in the upcoming election, participation in recent elections, and knowledge of the location and name of their polling place. 

Paid interviewers at The Polling Institute dialed household telephone numbers, known as “landline numbers,” and cell phone numbers using random samples obtained from Survey Sampling International of Shelton, CT. In order to draw a representative sample from the landline numbers, interviewers alternated asking for the youngest adult male or the youngest adult female age 18 or older who was home at the time of the call. Interviewers dialing cell phone numbers interviewed the respondent who answered the cell phone after confirming three things: (1) that the respondent was in a safe setting to complete the survey; (2) that the respondent was an adult age 18 or older; and (3) that the respondent was a resident of Massachusetts. The sample of all adults consisted of 432 interviews completed on landlines and 166 interviews completed on cell phones. The landline and cell phone data were combined and weighted to reflect the adult population of Massachusetts by gender, race, age, and county of residence using U.S. Census estimates for Massachusetts. The data also were weighted to adjust for cell phone and landline usage based on state-level estimates for Massachusetts from the National Center for Health Statistics. Complete results of the poll are available online at www.wne.edu/news. The full text of the questionnaire for this survey is available at www1.wne.edu/pollinginst.  

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. The margin of sampling error for a sample of 536 registered voters is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval, and the margin of sampling error for a sample of 416 likely voters is + / - 5 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus if 55 percent of likely voters said they would vote no on the ballot question repealing the casino law, one would be 95 percent sure that the true figure would be between 50 percent and 60 percent (55 percent +/- 5 percent) had all likely voters in Massachusetts been interviewed, rather than just a sample.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects. 

Established in 2005, the Western New England University Polling Institute conducts research on issues of importance to Massachusetts and the region. The Institute provides the University’s faculty and students with opportunities to participate in public opinion research. Additional information about the Polling Institute is available at www1.wne.edu/pollinginst.

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Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies to Discuss Domestic Violence and the NFL

Posted September 30, 2014

The Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies at Western New England University School of Law will present "Domestic Violence and the National Football League: A Public Discussion with Professor Michael McCann" on Wednesday, October 1 at 12:00 noon in the Blake Law Center Commons. This timely discussion will focus on the intersection of domestic violence and the culture of sport through the example of recent events involving the National Football League. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

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Appearing via Skype will be Professor of Law and sports law expert Michael McCann. McCann is the Director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire. He also appears frequently in print, online, and in social media platforms, as well as on television to analyze legal issues in the world of sport. His recent commentary has addressed such topics as the antitrust litigation against the NCAA, the Donald Sterling controversy, and the NFL’s response to Ray Rice.

Contributing to the discussion will be Professor of Law, Erin Buzuvis, Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University. Buzuvis researches and writes about sex discrimination and gender issues in the context of sport.

Established in 2012, the Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies is a resource for students, alumni, and faculty of Western New England University School of Law, the legal community, and the general public. The Center works to engage with the legal community, with the University, and with members of the School of Law on core issues of gender and sexuality across a broad spectrum of law, including criminal law, immigration, employment, family law, health law, discrimination, prisoners’ rights, legislation, leadership and business, and international and comparative law.

Learn more about this event and other programming offered through Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies.

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Poll Finds Candidates for Governor Locked in Tight Race

Posted September 29, 2014

Baker, Coakley separated by one percentage point among likely voters

As the candidates for governor of Massachusetts prepare for tonight’s (Sept. 29) televised debate in Springfield, the latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute finds the race to be a dead heat.

Republican Charlie Baker leads Democrat Martha Coakley by one point among likely voters and also by one point among the larger sample of registered voters in the telephone survey, conducted Sept. 20-28. But the race is in flux, with 41 percent of likely voters who expressed a candidate preference saying they could change their minds before Election Day on Nov. 4.

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The survey of 416 likely voters found Baker with support from 44 percent, while 43 percent said they would vote for Coakley if the election were held today. Independent candidates Evan Falchuk and Jeff McCormick each received backing from two percent of likely voters, and independent candidate Scott Lively won support from one percent. Another seven percent said they are undecided.  

The margin of error for the sample of 416 likely voters is plus or minus five percentage points. The margin of error for the larger sample of 536 registered voters, which includes the likely voter sample, is plus or minus four percent.

The Polling Institute also asked voters about their preferences in the race for a seat in the United States Senate. Incumbent Democrat Ed Markey, who won the seat in a special election in June 2013 and is seeking a full six-year term in November, leads Republican Brian Herr, a former selectman from Hopkinton, by 22 points among likely voters, 56 percent to 34 percent.

The results in the race for governor reveal a much closer contest than previous surveys from the Polling Institute, which found Coakley with a 20-point lead over Baker among registered voters last October, and a 29-point lead among registered voters in a survey conducted March 31 through April 7. Coakley, currently the state attorney general, and Baker, a former health care executive who served in the cabinets of two Republican governors, won their parties’ nominations in primary elections Sept. 9.

“With the campaign in full swing now, it is anybody’s race between the two front-runners,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University.

Click here to view complete poll results.

The five candidates for governor are scheduled to participate in a televised debate tonight at CityStage in Springfield. Local news media and civic and educational organizations, including Western New England University, are sponsoring the debate.

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“Voters have five more weeks to get a look at these candidates,” Vercellotti said. “With the race tightening, events like tonight’s debate take on heightened importance.”

The survey found that Baker, who ran as the Republican Party’s nominee for governor in 2010 and lost to incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick, saw his favorability and unfavorability ratings increase since the spring survey. Forty-two percent of registered voters viewed him favorably and 21 percent viewed him unfavorably in the latest poll, compared to 31 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable in the March 31 - April 7 survey.

Coakley’s favorability ratings have narrowed considerably since the April survey. Forty-two percent of registered voters viewed her favorably and 35 percent unfavorably in the latest poll, compared to 51 percent favorable and 27 percent unfavorable in the March 31 – April 7 poll.

Vercellotti noted that Coakley emerged from a hotly contested Democratic primary a few weeks ago, and said the primary race may have contributed to the erosion in her favorability rating and growth in her unfavorability rating. “One of the hazards of the late primary schedule in Massachusetts is that candidates in a competitive primary don’t have a lot of time to recover before the general election,” he said.

The three independent candidates, Falchuk, McCormick, and Lively, are relatively unknown to voters. Each candidate has favorability ratings in the single digits in the latest survey. About four out of five registered voters said they had not heard of each of the independent candidates or had no opinion of them.

The governor’s race is unfolding against growing dissatisfaction about the state in general, the survey found. Forty-four percent of registered voters said the state is headed in the right direction, while 45 percent said that “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” Those numbers have soured since a Polling Institute survey conducted Oct. 1-7, 2013, when 56 percent of registered voters said the state was headed in the right direction and 35 percent said the state was on the wrong track.

In the match-up for governor, Baker’s one-point edge over Coakley among likely voters included survey respondents who said they leaned toward one of the candidates. Without the leaning voters, Baker held a two-point advantage over Coakley among likely voters, 42 percent to 40 percent.

 Baker and Coakley have strong support within their respective parties, with 81 percent of likely voters who identify as Republicans supporting Baker and 78 percent of likely voters who identify as Democrats backing Coakley. But Baker holds a sizable lead over Coakley, 54 percent to 30 percent, among independent voters 

“Baker is trying to thread the needle as required for Republican candidates running for statewide office in Massachusetts,” Vercellotti said. “His core partisan base of Republicans, while strongly supporting him, is not enough for him to win. He has to build a significant lead among independent voters, and he has made progress in that area.”

Coakley, meanwhile, has an 11-point lead among female likely voters, but she trails Baker by 16 points among male likely voters. “Democratic candidates rely on that gender gap among women to put together a winning coalition, but Coakley needs to expand her lead among women and win over some of Baker’s male supporters to prevail,” Vercellotti said. 

Vercellotti said that the polling data did not uncover any measurable shifts in public opinion toward Baker after he addressed a female television reporter as “sweetheart” at a campaign event in Boston on Sept. 23, four days into the field period for the survey. “Although the incident garnered considerable attention in the news media and on social media, our polling results found no clear pattern of change in support for Baker from before to after the incident,” Vercellotti said. 

Although the survey found the race to be very close, likely voters said they expect Coakley to win the contest. When asked to set aside their own preference and predict the winner, 45 percent of likely voters said they expect Coakley to win, while 30 percent said Baker and 22 percent said they did not know. Even 28 percent of likely voters who said they support Baker predicted Coakley would win.

“Coakley came into the race perceived as a strong favorite to win, and that perception continues, even among a sizable chunk of Baker’s supporters,” Vercellotti said. “That is ironic, given how competitive the race has become. If polling continues to show a close race, we should see that aura of inevitability begin to crumble. Coakley obviously can take nothing for granted.”

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters who expressed a preference for governor said they are very sure of their choice, but 41 percent said they might change their minds before Election Day. Baker has a slightly stronger hold on his supporters, with 62 percent saying they are very sure and 37 percent saying they might change their minds. Among Coakley’s supporters, 56 percent said they are very sure, while 43 percent said they might change their minds. Independent voters, who tend to decide statewide elections in Massachusetts, were divided, with 52 percent saying they are very sure and 47 percent saying they might change their minds.

While the survey found a suspenseful race for governor, the poll found less drama in the race for the U.S. Senate. Democratic incumbent Ed Markey holds a 22-point lead over Republican Brian Herr among likely voters, 56 percent to 34 percent.

Markey’s favorability and unfavorability ratings have fluctuated by small amounts since he competed in a special election in June 2013 to serve the remainder of John Kerry’s term in the Senate. In the latest survey 37 percent of registered voters said they hold a favorable view of Markey and 32 percent hold an unfavorable view, compared to 39 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable in a Polling Institute survey conducted June 16 – 20, 2013.

Herr, on the other hand, is not that well known to voters. Sixty-nine percent of registered voters in the latest survey said they had not heard of Herr, and 14 percent said they had no opinion of him. Three percent of voters said they had a favorable view of Herr, and five percent said they had an unfavorable view.  

METHODOLOGY

The Western New England University Polling Institute survey consists of telephone interviews with 598 adults ages 18 and older drawn from across Massachusetts using random-digit-dialing Sept. 20 – 28, 2014. The sample yielded 536 adults who said they are registered to vote in Massachusetts. Of those registered voters, 416 voters were classified as likely to vote in the Nov. 4, 2014 election. Voters were classified as likely voters based on their responses to questions about likelihood of voting in the upcoming election, participation in recent elections, and knowledge of the location and name of their polling place.

Paid interviewers at The Polling Institute dialed household telephone numbers, known as “landline numbers,” and cell phone numbers using random samples obtained from Survey Sampling International of Shelton, CT. In order to draw a representative sample from the landline numbers, interviewers alternated asking for the youngest adult male or the youngest adult female age 18 or older who was home at the time of the call. Interviewers dialing cell phone numbers interviewed the respondent who answered the cell phone after confirming three things: (1) that the respondent was in a safe setting to complete the survey; (2) that the respondent was an adult age 18 or older; and (3) that the respondent was a resident of Massachusetts. The sample of all adults consisted of 432 interviews completed on landlines and 166 interviews completed on cell phones. The landline and cell phone data were combined and weighted to reflect the adult population of Massachusetts by gender, race, age, and county of residence using U.S. Census estimates for Massachusetts. The data also were weighted to adjust for cell phone and landline usage based on state-level estimates for Massachusetts from the National Center for Health Statistics. The full text of the questionnaire for this survey is available at www1.wne.edu/pollinginst.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. The margin of sampling error for a sample of 536 registered voters is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval, and the margin of sampling error for a sample of 416 likely voters is + / - 5 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus if 55 percent of likely voters said they hold a favorable view of a candidate, one would be 95 percent sure that the true figure would be between 50 percent and 60 percent (55 percent +/- 5 percent) had all likely voters in Massachusetts been interviewed, rather than just a sample.

Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample. Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects. Established in 2005, the Western New England University Polling Institute conducts research on issues of importance to Massachusetts and the region. The Institute provides the University’s faculty and students with opportunities to participate in public opinion research. Additional information about the Polling Institute is available at www1.wne.edu/pollinginst.

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Artist Kim Carlino Enlightens Students

Posted September 27, 2014

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The Western New England University Art Gallery is currently hosting “Possibility of Space,” an exhibit by artist and independent curator Kim Carlino, from September 7 through October 2. Carlino explained to an audience of students and staff this week that, "I'm an artist because I need to create, I need to express the deepest part of myself through my art... I came to painting from my love of music. I play many instraments and my paintings are influenced by music." 

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Carlino received her BFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also studied at the New School and Drawing Room in NYC. She is a recipient of the Gordon Scholarship for Fine Art, Vice Chancellor’s Purchase Award and a 2011 Art Grant from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Carlino was the winner of a solo competition at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston juried by Al Miner, assistant curator of Contemporary Art at the MFA Boston and was invited to curate the annual Dialogue with a Collection at the University Museum of Contemporary Art at Umass Amherst. 

For information and directions to the gallery visit www.wne.edu/arts or call the University at 413-782-1567.

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University Announces Information Session for Master’s Programs in Business

Posted September 26, 2014

Western New England University will host an information session for prospective graduate business students on Wednesday, October 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Kevin S. Delbridge Welcome Center (Second Floor).

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Faculty from the College of Business and representatives of the Admissions Office will be available to answer questions and help prospective students choose a program that suits their educational and career goals. The University offers a variety of graduate business programs, including a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) including concentrations in Taxation or Forensic Accounting/Fraud Investigation, and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. Classes are offered online with optional classroom sessions, allowing students greater flexibility. Four 11-week graduate terms are offered annually allowing candidates to earn their master’s in as little as one year.

For more information, visit www.wne.edu/gradbusiness or contact the Admissions Office at 413-782-1517 or study@wne.edu.

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