By Phillip Smith
A solid majority of Washington voters approve of Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measure sponsored by New Approach Washington, according to a SurveyUSA poll released this week. The poll had support for the initiative at 57%, with 34% opposed.
The initiative would legalize and regulate the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana by adults 21 and over. Similar measures are on the ballot in Colorado and Oregon.
The level of support for the initiative is higher than a Public Policy Polling survey in June, which had support at 54% and opposition at 37%.
Campaign organizers can take some comfort in the numbers, which show an absolute majority in favor of the initiative. It’s one thing to be leading in a poll, but unable to crack the 50% mark; it’s another to go comfortably over 50%. If the campaign can keep its numbers from slipping in the final weeks, it appears poised for victory.
The poll’s cross-tabs show almost identical levels of support among men (58%) and women (57%), while every age group except the 65-and-older (45%) also shows majority support. The initiative polled strongly with whites (60%), but not so much with Hispanics (47%) or Asians (42%). Whites make up 80% of the Washington electorate.
Democrats (70%) and independents (62%) strongly support the measure, while only one-third (33%) of Republicans do. Similarly, the measure wins majority support among liberals (76%) moderates (63%), and Tea Party members (!) (54%), but not among conservatives (33%).
SurveyUSA contacted 700 Washington residents last week and identified 524 of them as likely voters. The poll was conducted by telephone, using both cell phones and land lines.
Just a little more than a month and a half from election day, Initiative 502 is sitting pretty. It also has a lot of money in the bank and little sign of organized opposition. It could happen this year in Washington state.