Voters in California have heard or seen something about Proposition 19 at levels almost unheard of for any other ballot measure anywhere in the country. Among young voters, awareness of Prop 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, is at an unprecedented (and almost impossible to believe) 94 percent.
According to a Field Poll (PDF), as of mid-September, a remarkable 84 percent of likely voters in California know that prop 19 is on the ballot. Among that same group, just under 40 percent had heard about Prop 23 and Prop 25, two other important measures to be decided this November. For a historic comparison, look at the numbers for 2008’s Prop 8, California’s hotly contested anti-gay marriage initiative, from around roughly the same time in the election cycle. A Field poll (PDF) from mid-September 2008 found that only 70 percent of likely voters had heard that Proposition 8 was on the ballot.
Even more impressive than the generally high awareness of Prop 19 among voters is how nearly every likely voter under 30 has heard of Prop 19. Looking at the cross tabs (via the Sacramento Bee) from this Field Poll, we see 94.4 percent of likely voters under 30 have heard or read about Prop 19. (To give you an idea of how broad this awareness is, that 5.6 percent who is unaware is probably greater than the poll’s margin of error for that subgroup.) Almost no politician in the country has name recognition among young voters anywhere near 94.4 percent.
While the huge level of media interest in Prop 19 has probably helped drive it to very high levels of awareness in general, the issue clearly resonates with younger voters. Young voters are often disconnected from politics, especially in midterm elections, but on the issue of marijuana legalization in California this year, they are highly tuned in. As the Prop 19 campaign unfolds, there continues to be more and more evidence that having marijuana legalization on the ballot has a unique ability to motivate young people and drive up youth turnout.