Marijuana legalization measures could still fail despite polling leads

According to the latest polls released in September and early October, general election ballot measures in all five states proposing to legalize the recreational use of marijuana have across-the-board majority support.

On Nov. 8, voters in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine will decided whether to allow the casual consumption of pot in their respective states.

Two of the most recent California polls released in September show that between 52 and 60 percent of likely voters support Proposition 64, which also stipulates taxing and regulating all marijuana sales.

A WBZ-UMASS Amherst poll published in late September similarly found that 53 percent of likely Massachusetts voters favor their state’s marijuana initiative, while 40 percent oppose and 7 percent are still undecided.  Legalization of recreational marijuana enjoys the same amount of proportional support in Maine.

In Arizona and Nevada, the polls are tighter, with only 50 percent of registered voters favoring legalization in the former, while the latter’s latest survey results are mixed. A poll of likely Nevada voters released Friday by Suffolk University found 57 percent support for the measure, while results of a Review-Journal survey made public Tuesday showed a slim one-point margin in favor, 47 to 46 percent.

“If anything, the polls should give the opposition some comfort,” said anti-legalization group president Kevin Sabet. “If you are not at 60 percent at this stage in the game, it usually spells trouble for ballot initiatives.”

The polling of demographic groups in these five states shows that Democrats, independents and young voters are more likely to favor marijuana legalization measures than Republicans and voters over the age of 65.

While the key to the marijuana ballot questions successes will likely come down to voter turnout in November, some involved in the on-the-ground campaigns say the information war is not over either.

“While it’s good to be polling ahead right now in all the states with legalization on the ballot, the margin is a little too close for comfort in a few places, especially since the opposition hasn’t yet gone on the air with the scare-tactic-filled ads we expect from them,” said Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell.

While pro-legalization advocates like Angell claim anti-marijuana advertisements will flood the airwaves in October and early November, others who oppose the measures say the pot industry will also ramp up their campaign ads.

“If the pro-legalization side is not at 55 percent at this point, it will likely lose,” said Arizona Republican and anti-legalization campaign strategist Sean Noble.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the pro-legalization side starts to dump in large amounts of special interest money in order to stop the bleeding in some of these states,” Noble predicted.


[Washington Post] [The Hill] [Image courtesy]