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Survey Finds Central Va. More Liberal with Gay Marriage, Marijuana Legalization


Voters in the Charlottesville region hold more liberal attitudes than the state as a whole on issues related to the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage, a new University of Virginia study reports.

Jefferson Area Community Survey map

June 25, 2014

Voters in the Charlottesville region hold more liberal attitudes than the state as a whole on issues related to the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage, a new University of Virginia study reports.

The latest Jefferson Area Community Survey (JACS), a recurring omnibus survey conducted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Survey Research, polled 826 registered voters in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.

Asked if they supported or opposed the legalization of marijuana for personal use, 61 percent of voters in the survey indicated that they would support such an effort. Young adults are generally more favorable toward legalization, with 84.3 percent of voters ages 18 to 25 supporting legalization compared to only 37 percent of those over 64. Support for legalization was stronger among men (66.8 percent) than among women (56.4 percent) and stronger in Charlottesville and Albemarle County than in outlying areas.

Voters indicate even stronger support for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, with 93.1 percent in favor. Slightly less than half (47 percent) of voters in the survey indicated that marijuana and alcohol are equally dangerous, while 40.4 percent called marijuana less dangerous than alcohol and 12.6 percent calling it more dangerous than alcohol.

A Quinnipiac University survey from March found 46 percent of voters statewide supported legalization of marijuana for personal use and 84 percent supporting legalization for medicinal purposes.

Local voters are also more liberal than the state as a whole when it comes to same-sex marriage.

JACS found that 68.1 percent of voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry in Virginia, while the Quinnipiac survey reports that 50 percent of voters in Virginia support allowing same-sex marriages. While lower than the regional figure, the statewide figure still reflects a change since 2006, when 57 percent of Virginia voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage.

The JACS survey finds that support for the legalization of same-sex marriage is strongest among those living in Charlottesville and Albemarle County and among young voters; among self-identified students, support was unanimous, with 25 students indicating their support and none indicating opposition.

The poll was done between April 23 and June 18, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.


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