Support for California Proposition 19, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, increased significantly in the latest Field Poll (PDF). Yes on Prop 19 is now winning 49% compared to 42% against.
Field Poll (PDF) (9/14-21)
Have you seen, read or heard anything about Proposition 19, a statewide ballot proposition that would legalize marijuana under California law?
(As you know) Proposition 19 legalizes marijuana under California but not federal law and permits local governments to regulate and tax its commercial production, distribution and sale. Allows people 21 years or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Fiscal impact: Depending on federal, state and local government actions, potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually. If the election were being held today, would you vote YES or NO on Proposition 19?
This most recent poll is a significant improvement since July when Field last polled this. In July, Field found Yes with only 44 percent and no with 48 percent.
Generally, a ballot measure polling below 50 percent at this point is considered in the danger zone, but Prop 19 is very different from almost all other ballot measures in history, so I don’t think that rule of thumb applies here. Unlike most ballot measures, Prop 19 has an extremely high profile. The Field poll found that an amazing 84% of likely voters have heard of Prop 19. To provide a comparison, the relatively high profile Proposition 25 (to restore simple majority votes for state budgets) is known by only 39% of voters. Proposition 23 (to suspend the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law) has been heard of by only 37% of voters — and that’s after corporations supporting Prop 23 already spent millions on it.
As expected, the internals show the same basic patterns we have seen elsewhere for support of marijuana legalization. Prop 19 is very popular with voters under 40 (yes 59 – no 33) and unpopular with senior citizens (yes 36 – no 53). Prop 19 also preforms the best with voters in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One small worrying sign is that Prop 19 preforms slightly worse among those who are signed up to vote by mail compared to those who vote in person. In general, those who vote by mail tend to have higher “turnout” during midterm elections.
This is important because Prop 19 is hoovering right around 50% confirmed support. It will likely succeed or fail based on turnout. My analysis shows motivating young people to turnout strongly for Prop 19 could easily provide it that extra few percentage points it needs to put it over the top. The big questions for Prop 19 now are who will show up for this midterm, and will the young voters that strongly support Prop 19 turnout in high enough numbers to put it over the top.