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WV poll shows state opinions on guns, legalized pot

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Sometimes, the pollsters want to ask their own questions, and that's exactly how the latest results from Orion Strategies came about.

The public relations, advertising and political consulting firm used its members' own curiosity to guide the questions in recent telephone interviews on March 13-15.

The questions were asked of 305 "likely voters" in West Virginia, and voters' thoughts on various social issues shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

"Every year, we conduct polls on behalf of political campaigns, media outlets, universities, industry associations and labor unions," Orion Strategies Owner Curtis Wilkerson said in a news release. "Often, there are questions we would like to ask if only we had the time."

Only 36 percent of those polled believed things in West Virginia were headed in the right direction, and in a hypothetical election between Hillary Clinton and an unnamed Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election, Clinton led the poll 39 percent to 30 percent with everyone else undecided.

More West Virginians have guns than the national average, with 63 percent of households reporting a firearm compared to the national average of 41 percent, according to the poll. A full 75 percent of those interviewed said universal background criminal and mental checks should be mandatory in order to purchase firearms from any location.

The state may not be ready for legalized marijuana, with 66 percent of those polled against its legalization, but when it comes to the death penalty, 59 percent of respondents said the death penalty should be reinstated in West Virginia.

Gender questions did not have clear consensus, with 30 percent of those interviewed saying civil unions between homosexual couples should be legalized and 55 percent of respondents agreeing with the U.S. military decision to allow women soldiers to serve in combat zones.

The survey has a 95 percent confidence rate, according to a news release from Orion. Orion has offices in Charleston and Buckhannon.

The firm also said opinions about social networking, police protection in schools, the Friends of Coal Bowl and MTV's West Virginia-centered television show Buckwild would be released next week.