Fifty-six percent of adults living in the state think California should legalize the use of marijuana, while only 42% oppose, according to a new SurveyUSA poll. The level of support is basically unchanged from last year, when a Field Research poll found that 56% of registered voters in California supported legalizing and taxing marijuana for recreational use. And the poll is consistent with a recent CBS News poll showing that 55% of adults in “western” states support legalization, with only 41% opposed. California voters will be voting on a ballot initiative that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis. Currently, a strong majority of adults support the general idea, so it seems its fate will rest on the turnout demographics.
As would be expected, there is a huge generational divide on the issue. Three-quarters of adults under 35 support legalization, but 54% of those over 65 oppose the idea. Since older Americans are traditionally likely to turnout in much higher numbers than young people, this generational divide could spell trouble for the measure, even though support for legalization polls 14 points ahead.
Among the other findings from the poll is that there is a huge gender divide. Men support legalization by 65%, while only 46% women do. African Americans are the ethnic group that most thinks marijuana should be legalized (67%-29%), while Hispanics are the only ethnic group where a majority does not support legalization (45%-53%).
Interestingly, independents are the political group that most strongly thinks marijuana should be legalized–62% of independents favor legalization, while only 59% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans feel the same way. There appears to be a huge divide in support between self-identified liberals and Democrats–an overwhelming majority of liberals, 77%, supports legalization.
For the ballot measure to win, large numbers of young men are going to need to vote in November to offset the disproportionately high turnout from senior citizens. Young men are not a demographic known for their reliable voting patterns, but maybe the possibility of actually legalizing marijuana will get them to the polls in numbers that no politician ever could.