The Emerson Polling Society made a name for itself by receiving national attention for polling the 2016 presidential election. This month, their polling efforts are going toward collecting data on public perception of marijuana to see how legalization would affect trade in North America.
“Although we did get the results [of the election] wrong, a lot of our work was very accurate in the primaries and the caucuses,” Director of Communication for Emerson Polling Nikolas Emack-Bazelais said. “We just built a reputation in the industry as one of the most accurate college pollsters, if not pollsters period.”
Since the election, the organization has been focusing on more general issues rather than elections, Emack-Bazelais said. During March, they are collecting data about public opinion on recreational and medical marijuana across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Generally, recreational marijuana is not supported in Mexico while medical marijuana is.
“As you start moving up toward the United States and Canada, you start to see a shift,” Emack-Bazelais said. “Recreational marijuana in the United States is very popular, and even more popular in Canada.”
Their research focuses on how the marijuana legalization would affect the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, Emack-Bazelais said.
Emerson Polling presented their data at Bridgewater State University’s NAFTA conference, faculty advisor and assistant professor Spencer Kimball said.
The data they collected and presented showed mostly how the public answered questions regarding NAFTA. Overall, most citizens of the U.S. and Canada know what NAFTA is, but are not totally familiar with current renegotiations of the agreement.
The results also show that support for legalization of marijuana is about equal in the U.S. and Canada, with 56% of U.S. citizens and 60% of Canadian citizens showing support.
Kimball said their polling shows that people who are young or college educated are more supportive of legalization.
Polling methods used by the group are split into two sections, Emack-Bazelais said. Online surveys are sent out with questions about the demographic of voters and their opinions on the topic.
Emerson Polling also has a weekly podcast that explains the work they do and its results. Emack-Bazelais said a recent episode centered around the polling they did for the Pennsylvania congressional election but will soon focus on marijuana.
“As our data comes in and we start looking at things like marijuana and the public perception of NAFTA and how that relates to the marijuana industry, obviously we’ll be talking about topics such as those in the podcast,” Emack-Bazelais said.
Kimball will appear on the podcast to discuss the results of the marijuana polling in more depth.
“Back in November we did a couple [podcasts] about marijuana and they were very popular,” Kimball said. “We decided to do some polling on it in the spring, and we thought Marijuana March was a nice alliteration.”