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Poll Shows Public Less Keen on Liquor Privatization

Public support may be waning for a plan to sell off the state's wine and liquor stores.

It's the issue on the governor's to-do list that is furthest along in the Legislature, but a new Franklin & Marshall College poll notes support for it has dropped by six points among surveyed voters since February - from 53 percent in a February poll to 47 percent in a May poll.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Still, more respondents support privatization than oppose it.

Pollster Terry Madonna noted the results may prove to be the typical ebb and flow of public opinion while an issue is receiving a fierce amount of media and legislative attention.

"It's no different than a campaign and campaigns are about changing opinion and to some extent we have a campaign now by both the supporters and the opponents of privatization and typically the group that feels threatened the most reacts with the most fury," Madonna said.

The poll comes as the state Senate prepares for the second of three planned committee hearings on liquor privatization. The first featured testimony from law enforcement groups, substance abuse service providers and teenagers. They all cautioned lawmakers about the potential social ills of making alcohol more easily accessible.

Public support for liquor privatization among poll respondents dropped among both registered Republicans and Democrats. Thirty one percent of those who took part in the poll support allowing the state stores to keep operating as they are, while 26 percent back some kind of modernization of the facilities.