The ballot initiative Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in California, still leads by nine points in the latest poll from PPP:
PPP (PDF) (9/14-16)
Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana under California but not federal law. It would permit local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution, and sale of marijuana. Will you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?
The good news is that Yes on Prop 19 still has that fairly large nine-point margin over No on Prop 19. This is larger than we saw in the most recent SurveyUSA poll, which found it 47 percent yes -43 no.
There are, however, two worrying signs: one is that the ballot measure is polling just below 50 percent, which is generally considered a danger zone for ballot measures. Undecideds tend to break against a ballot questoins. When they don’t fully understand or know enough about a proposition, voting “no” to keep things as they currently are tends to be the default choice. I suspect given the very high profile of Prop 19 and the fairly simple-to-understand point at the heart of it, that wouldn’t be as big an issue for this ballot measure. For example, another high-profile ballot measure, the 2008 anti-gay marriage Prop 8, didn’t see undecideds break sharply to vote “no.”
The second concern is that since July, when PPP last polled this question, support for Prop 19 has fallen modestly from 52 percent yes, 36 percent no.
The poll did find evidence that having Prop 19 on the ballot is actually making young voters enthusiastic about voting for it. From Tom Jensen:
A big question to contemplate in California is whether the marijuana initiative is helping to stifle the enthusiasm gap Democrats are dealing with in most other states, particularly when it comes to intended turnout from young voters. We’re seeing a much higher level of interest in this election from voters under 45 in California than in most places and those folks are highly favorable toward Proposition 19, planning to vote for it by a 54/34 margin.
Those same young voters are fueling much of the lead for Jerry Brown in the Governor’s race and Barbara Boxer in the Senate- if Brown and Boxer win they may have the marijuana initiative to thank for driving turnout from folks who would otherwise have been drop off voters in a midterm. We’ll do more research on what races are bringing people out the next time we poll California.
Young voters are very supportive of marijuana legalization. The poll found likely voters 18-29 years old favored Proposition 19, 67 percent to 24 percent. If young people turnout in larger-than-expected numbers to vote for Prop 19, my analysis shows that would significantly increase its chances of passing. Given that support for Prop 19 is hovering right around 50 percent, the size of the youth turnout could easily make the difference between success and failure.