WBUR Poll: Olympics Support Ticks Up, Halting Slide

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John Fish, left, chairman of Boston 2024, answers a councilor's question during the first meeting of the Boston City Council on the city's bid to be awarded the 2024 Summer Olympics, on March 6. Boston 2024's CEO Richard Davey, center, and chief architect David Manfredi look on. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
John Fish, left, chairman of Boston 2024, answers a councilor's question during the first meeting of the Boston City Council on the city's bid to be awarded the 2024 Summer Olympics, on March 6. Boston 2024's CEO Richard Davey, center, and chief architect David Manfredi look on. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

A new WBUR poll shows support for holding the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston has risen slightly over the last month.

Forty percent of registered voters in the Boston area support the idea. That number is up from 36 percent in March, halting a downward slide.

“The bleeding has stopped,”  TWEET said Steve Koczela, of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey (topline, crosstabs) for WBUR.

“From January to February, and then from February to March, we saw a drop in support each month, and a climb in the number of people opposing the Olympics,” Koczela said. “That’s stopped now this month. This month we see 40 percent saying they support the idea and 50 percent opposing.”

The 10-point advantage that opponents now have has shrunk from a 16-point margin last month. And for the first time since January, more voters in the city of Boston support the Olympic bid than oppose it, 47-41.

“That’s gotta be good news for proponents,” Koczela said.

WBUR poll results over four months

WBUR poll results over four months

But that’s still a long way from the strong backing that the private organizing group behind the bid, Boston 2024, wants to have built in two years, when the International Olympic Committee chooses a host city.

“The pendulum swings back and forth all of the time,” said Roger Meeker, a theater professor from Ashland who thinks the effort of hosting the Olympics is worth it to showcase Boston to the rest of the world.

“Who knows where [support] will actually end up,” Meeker said. “But everybody’s who’s in support of it simply has to expend more energy in figuring out how to revise [the bid] so that it’s acceptable to more people.”

After the WBUR poll last month, Boston 2024 said it would support a statewide referendum. And former Gov. Deval Patrick said he would forgo a fee when consulting for Boston 2024. Meeker says he’s not surprised Olympic opposition has fallen slightly since those announcements.

“The people who are against it feel like they’ve been railroaded, and when they have the opportunity to vote against it, then they can’t complain about that anymore,” Meeker said.

The WBUR poll shows one big doubt about the proposed plan is the overall price tag. Ninety percent of poll respondents think the Olympics is very likely or somewhat likely to cost more than currently estimated.

And Koczela says there’s another key issue wrapped up in the Olympics.

“One of the doubts about the Olympics is that people are not sure whether or not it would leave the city with a better transportation system,” he said. “And that’s something that residents care about a lot.”

Poll respondents are just about evenly split over whether the Olympics would leave Boston with a better transportation system than the city would have otherwise.

They’re also unsure whether the MBTA should raise its fares, as Gov. Charlie Baker’s advisory panel recently recommended.

“As a college student, I don’t know if I want the price to increase, just because I have so many other expenses,” said Bostonian Anya Gonzales, who was at an underground Green Line stop Wednesday afternoon.

Gonzales reflects one opinion in the WBUR poll. It shows that 80 percent of Boston-area registered voters think that for current levels of T service, fares are either just right or too high. But if service improved significantly improved, 61 percent said they would support higher fares.

Gonzales reluctantly agrees. “If the T was more reliable and the increase was, minimal,” she sighed, “I think that I would be in support of it.”

The WBUR poll also shows that a 42 percent of Boston-area registered voters don’t ride the T in an average week. But 34 percent said they would ride it more if the system were more reliable.

Methodology: The poll surveyed 509 registered Boston area voters between April 10-13. The poll included a base sample of 409 residents in the entire area including Boston, with an additional 100 voters living in the city of Boston. Between the base sample and oversample, a total of 223 voters in the city of Boston were interviewed. The Boston area is defined as communities inside Route 128 or straddling that corridor. The margin of error for the full sample is 4.9 percent and the margin of error for the Boston sample is 6.5 percent.

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