Proposition 19 on the November ballot in California would put marijuana on a near equal footing with alcohol in the state of California. It would be legal for adults in California to buy, sell and cultivate it, but illegal to sell to minors, use in public or to operate heavy machinery while under the influence. The state would allow cities to decide to regulate the sale and tax it. The current political climate makes it uncomfortable to use the phrases "common sense" and "libertarian" in the same sentence, but supporting Prop. 19 is the common sense libertarian position.
The Field organization, a longtime polling company based in California, has released an early opinion poll about four of the ballot measures that will be decided in November, and Prop. 19 is among them. There is a further link to the poll in .pdf form. Let me do some quick back-of-the-spreadsheet calculations and number crunching on the results.
The early bad news. The early polling shows Prop. 19 failing, with 44% in favor and 48% opposed in a sample of 1,005 likely voters. Since 92% of respondents have an opinion, it's acceptable to use the Confidence of Victory method, or so says the method's designer. (That would be me. It's optimal to use when the amount of undecided is less than 5%, but still usable when the undecided is under 10%.) If the election were held today, these numbers would make us about 91% confident the proposition will not pass. Of course, the election is NOT being held today and public opinion can change dramatically in four months.
The early good news. The public is more aware of Prop. 19 than they are of any of the other major ballot measures the poll asked about. 77% of respondents had heard about the legalization effort before they were contact by the pollsters. Among people who are already heard of it, the measure is favored 48% to 44%. Among those asked their opinion mere moments after hearing the proposition existed, the measure is opposed 61% to 32%. It is possible that further education could sway the numbers in favor of the ballot.
Matty Boy, the nearly archetypical supporter, The Gosh Darned Pater Familias... not so much. Every time the vote is broken down demographically, I am in a group favoring passage. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm non-Hispanic white, I'm male, I'm 50-64 years of age, I'd heard of the proposition before yesterday and I'm a registered Democrat. In contrast, the Gosh Darned Pater Familias is in a bunch of demographic groups that typically do not favor passage. The major demographic differences between us are that he is over 65 and Republican. When we have discussed this in the past, he has been in favor of passage.
Like I said, the common sense libertarian viewpoint.
The current racial divide and the groups showing early support. Non Hispanic whites are the only ethnic group that support passage in this early poll, 48% to 43%. Hispanic voters are at 36% to 62%, African-Americans 40% to 52% and the traditionally conservative Asian community 33% to 62%. Two major political groups to come out early in favor of passage are the Democratic Party of California and the NAACP. Swaying the African-American vote alone will not ensure victory, since they comprise only 6% of the California electorate, but advances there and gaining strength in the Hispanic community could help make the difference.
A name that allegedly goes against the current grain. The official name of Proposition 19 is the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. If we agree with the lame stream media who think the Tea Party are the wave of the future, the American people hate regulation, government control and taxes almost as much as they hate Satan and all his works. But in reality, and more importantly in California, these goofballs who think Thomas Paine was a supply-side economist are a minority of an already minority party.
There's a long time between now and the election and the forces opposing are already raising more cash than the backers have, but cash alone doesn't always work, as PG&E and Mercury Insurance found out last month. It makes for an interesting election cycle.