August 4, 2020

Positive sentiment dominant ahead of New Zealand cannabis referendum

1min read

Recent online sentiment analysis has suggested cannabis legislation is now being viewed favourably by citizens in New Zealand.

August 4th, 2020

Arnau Valdovinos


While the poll results show that the Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns are head-to-head in the run-up to the New Zealand cannabis referendum taking place on the 19 September, the online conversation has been predominantly favourable to cannabis legalisation.

In the last two years, we have observed a clear rising trend in average passion score (a metric measuring the intensity of sentiment in online conversations) around the topic of cannabis legalisation. This trend coincides with the falling number of undecided voters in the surveys, showing increased political polarisation and intensification of campaigns and endorsements, which range from Snoop Dogg to former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

While men dominate the online conversation on the referendum responsible for 69% of posts, women show a higher positive sentiment towards the topic of cannabis legalisation with 62% positivity versus 51% positivity for men. A similar finding of a recent poll showed that women were more likely to favour legalisation than men (59% vs 51%), while the Maori are also overwhelmingly in favour of the adult-use bill with 72% in support.

Given that the referendum coincides with a general election (with a typical turn-out of around 80%) a wide majority of New Zealanders are expected to take part in the cannabis referendum. With surveys suggesting a close vote, the campaign will likely be swung by the ‘undecided’ vote.

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Positive sentiment dominant ahead of New Zealand cannabis referendum

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