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Will California Legalize Marijuana in 2012

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The Public Policy Institute of California recently released a full breakdown of the 2010 election results. As expected, there was quite a bit of analysis dealing with Proposition 19. Feel free to click the link above and check it out for yourself; there are 37 pages of solid info. But for those of you that just want the highlights (probably why you’re looking at blogs right?), here are what I thought were the most interesting parts:

“Of the nine propositions on the November statewide ballot, Proposition 19–the unsuccessful measure to legalize marijuana–attracted the most interest among voters, and those who voted against it felt more strongly about the outcome than those who voted yes. These are among the key findings of a post-election survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) with support from The James Irvine Foundation.

In the PPIC survey of 2,003 voters who reported participating in the election, 38 percent say they were most interested in Proposition 19, followed by 16 percent who name Proposition 23, the measure to suspend the state’s air pollution law (AB 32).”

“Proposition 19 lost by 6 points (47% yes, 53% no). Republicans (73%), Latinos (60%), whites (53%), women (58%), and older voters (58% ages 35 and older) voted no. Majorities of Democrats (56%) and independents (55%) voted yes, as did voters ages 18—34 (62%). Most voters say the outcome of the vote was very important (35%) or somewhat important (35%) to them. Just 18 percent of those who voted yes call the outcome very important, while 51 percent of those who voted no feel the same way.

Asked the open-ended question of why they voted for or against the measure, the top reason given by those voting yes is that it would have allowed marijuana to be taxed (29%). The next most frequently cited reasons: marijuana use is a personal issue or not a big deal (12%) and passage would have freed the police/courts to do other things (11%) or would have led to less crime and drug violence (10%). The top reasons given by those who voted against the measure are that drugs should be illegal (33%) and legalization is not good for the state (12%).

But on the general issue of legalization voters are more evenly divided than the vote on Proposition 19 indicates. When voters are asked more generally about whether they think marijuana should be made legal or not, 49 percent are in favor and 49 percent are opposed. Among those who voted no on the ballot measure, 11 percent favor legalization in general.”

“Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California and allowed it to be regulated and taxed, failed by 6 points (47% yes, 53% no). Partisan differences are clear, with majorities of Democrats (56%) and independents (55%) voting yes, and 73 percent of Republicans voting no. There are also differences across ideological groups, with seven in 10 liberals (69%) supporting the measure, and three in four conservatives (74%) opposing it. Moderates were divided (48% yes, 52% no). Voters ages 18 to 34 are far more likely than older voters to have voted yes. Majorities of Latinos (60%) and whites (53%) report voting no, as do a solid majority of women (58%). Men were divided (50% yes, 50% no).

The top reason given for voting yes on the measure, in an open-ended question, is that it would have allowed for the taxation of marijuana (29%). Yes-voters also say that marijuana use is a personal issue or not a big deal (12%), that it would have freed up the police/courts to do other things (11%), or that it would lead to less crime and drug violence (10%). Among no-voters, the top reasons given for opposition are that drugs should be illegal (33%), and that legalization is not good for the state (12%). Fewer cite child safety (8%), the potential conflict with federal law (7%), or that the initiative was poorly written (7%).”

“Seven in 10 voters say the outcome of the vote on Proposition 19 was very (35%) or somewhat (35%) important. No-voters are far more likely than yes-voters to consider the outcome very important (51% to 18%). Republicans (44%) are much more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (27%) to say very important. Latinos (45%) are much more likely than whites (33%) to hold this view and the percentage saying very important decreases with education and income and is similar across age groups.”

“When asked more generally about whether they think marijuana should be legal or not, voters are divided (49% legal, 49% illegal). Similar to the vote on Proposition 19, Democrats (59%) and independents (57%) favor legalization, while most Republicans (69%) oppose it. Most Latinos (59%) think marijuana should not be legal, while whites are divided (50% legal, 47% illegal). Half of men favor legalization (52% legal, 45% illegal), while half of women say marijuana should be illegal (45% legal, 52% illegal). Similar to the vote on Proposition 19, voters age 18—34 (65%) favor legalization, while older voters prefer keeping it illegal. Among no-voters on Proposition 19, 11 percent favor legalization in general.”

To me, the single most important thing that can be taken away from this analysis is the final sentence, which I found a few times in the original document, “Among no-voters on Proposition 19, 11 percent favor legalization in general.” If marijuana legalization will become a reality in California in 2012, campaign managers and proposition authors will have to determine what exactly went wrong in that eleven percent. Because 2012 is a presidential election, I’m willing to wager that there will be an automatic bump on the support side. However, without targeting the eleven percent of swing voters from the 2010 election, a presidential bump will not be enough. It will be interesting to see what the 2012 initiative language will be compared to the 2010 version. Only time will tell…

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