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Which Way on Election Day? Pollsters Analyze Prop 19 and Its Chances [FEATURE]
four weeks to go!
California's Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, is certainly the most talked about ballot measure in the land this year. It is just as certainly the most polled of any initiative this year.

No fewer than a baker's dozen polls have surveyed Golden State voters since May of this year, and at least one more will appear the weekend before election day. The average for all the polls so far has Prop 19 winning 47.4%, with 43.2% opposed and 9.4% undecided.

The numbers would have been better for Prop 19 except for Monday's Reuter/Ipsos poll, which bucked the trend to show Prop 19 losing by 10 points. It is one of only three polls that show the measure losing; one was a Field Poll in July and the other was another Reuters/Ipsos poll in June.

Here are the results of the 13 polls, beginning with the most recent:

10/03/10Public Policy Institute of California52.0%41.0%
09/21/10Field Poll49.0%42.0%
09/16/10PPP (D)47.0%38.0%
07/25/10PPP (D)52.0%36.0%
07/05/10Field Poll44.0%48.0%
05/26/10Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D)49.0%41.0%
05/16/10Public Policy Institute of California49.0%48.0%

While support for Prop 19 has been nearly unchanged in the last six months, as this Talking Points Memo graph demonstrates, opposition has been declining and the gap between yes and no votes is growing--except in Monday's Reuters/Ipsis poll.

"What is remarkable is that the polls agree so closely," said Jay Leve, CEO of SurveyUSA. "Initiatives are among the most difficult things for pollsters to poll, because many of them are about arcane things that nobody knows about, like 30-year bond issues, so the polls can be all over the place. But in this one, the issue is pretty clear, and that's reflected in the agreement among the polls."

"Our surveys get more accurate the closer we get to election Day," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which had Prop 19 trailing by four points in July, but leading by seven in September. "In our second survey, we were able to read voters the actual ballot question," he noted.

Field will be taking one more poll before the election, DiCamillo said. "We will release our final poll the weekend before the election," he announced. "It will be much more insightful."

But with less than a month to go, things are looking pretty good for Prop 19. Liberals, Democrats, and young voters consistently showed strong support for Prop 19 across all the polls, suggesting, somewhat paradoxically, that voters motivated by support for Prop 19 could help the campaigns of Democrats gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer, both of whom have come out in opposition to legalization. Likewise, if surging Brown and Boxer campaigns bring out Democratic and liberal voters, they are going to be likely to vote for Prop 19 despite the positions of their gubernatorial and senatorial candidates.

But Republicans, who oppose Prop 19 by margins of 2-1, are also counting on a massive turnout. If the primary is a reliable indicator, they could see just that. In 2008, Democrats made up 42% of the electorate and Republicans just 30%, but Republican enthusiasm this year could close that gap. In the primaries, where only 33% of the electorate voted, 44% of Republicans did, while only 32% of Democrats did. A strong GOP turnout combined with weak turnout among Democrats could spell doom for the measure.

If polling for some groups has been consistent, that hasn't been the case for others, especially black voters. For example, at one point, the Field Poll had Prop 19 losing by 12 points among black voters, while just weeks later Public Policy Polling had it up by 36 points. Black voters only account for 6% of the state's electorate, so the results may suffer from too small a sample size.

Pollster Nate Silver of had another possible explanation, one he called the "Broadus Effect," after one Calvin Broadus -- better known as the rapper and major pot aficionado, Snoop Dog. It's a variation on the "Bradley Effect," named for former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost a mayoral race despite leading in the polls before election time.

The "Bradley Effect" posits that polls can be skewed by respondents who reply with what they think are the politically correct answers, rather than what they really think. Silver noted that automated robo-phone polls were showing higher support among blacks than polls done with human poll-takers.

"This might also explain why the split is larger among black and Hispanic voters," Silver wrote. "Marijuana usage is almost certainly more stigmatized when associated with minorities, and drug possession arrests occur much more frequently in minority communities. This is in spite of the fact that rates of marijuana consumption are only a smidgen higher among blacks than among whites, and are somewhat lower among Hispanics."

Pollsters are congenitally cautious about making predictions on actual election results, but both DiCamillo and Leve made heavily hedged predictions. "Usually, the burden of proof is on the proposition," said DiCamillo. "It's always on the yes side to make its case. In this case, there is a lead, but it's not quite at 50% plus one. Most initiatives do get a few percentage points out of the undecideds, so you'd expect this one to be favored for passage, but it's not a slam dunk."

Undecideds would have to break dramatically toward a no vote for the initiative to lose if the poll average today holds until Election Day. With Prop 19 at nearly 48% and undecideds at just under 10%, it would need to pick up just better than one out of five of those voters to get over the top.

And DiCamillo says Prop 19's prospects are good, barring some sort of October surprise. "If somebody came in and started advertising heavily against it, that could change things," he warned. So far, there's been no sign of that, but there is still time for a late TV ad campaign.

SurveyUSA's Leve was only a bit more definitive. "That it's maintaining a 10-point lead is good for the initiative, but that it's having trouble getting that 50% plus one is not," said Leve. "It's sort of a glass half full thing. If I was in Las Vegas and I was a betting man, I'd bet on it to win," said Leve. "But I'd only bet money I could afford to lose."

With less than a month out Prop 19 is leading by an average of more than four points. A historic victory for marijuana legalization may be coming into view, but Election Day will be a nailbiter, and its going to depend on turnout and those undecideds.

United States

Be Part of History -- Help Legalize Marijuana in California!

Watch the instructional video and start making calls today!

Hi Friends,

You can use your phone to directly help legalize marijuana!

Our Just Say Now Phonebank is a virtual system that provides you with a free, quick & easy way to reach individual voters in states voting on marijuana initiatives.

There are thousands of voters in Arizons, California, Oregon and South Dakota who need to hear from you, and we need your help. 

Help us end the war on marijuana - start calling voters in support of marijuana reform today. Click here to start calling:

Ourgoal is to call 100,000 voters in California in the next 30 days.  If 5,000 people call 20 voters each, about 5 calls per week, we can reach that goal.  You don't have to do it all yourself, though - pass this email to your friends and ask them to call.

Each call just takes a few minutes, and you can start calling voters with just your email address or Facebook account. There's evena video that explains how to call, step by step.

If you're in an SSDP chapter, you can earn points and compete with other chapters everytime you call or rectruit people to your chapter's team. Points are updated in real time on our leaderboard!

Voicing your support for this issue has never been easier or more urgently important, so start calling voters today.

Let's make history, let's make marijuana legal. 

Aaron Houston

Exectutive Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Connect with SSDP


Please help us grow our grassroots movement to end the failed War on Drugs by inviting family and friends to join.


United States

Women Taking Action Nationwide -- California's Proposition 19


Tomorrow, women throughout California and across the nation will speak out in support of Proposition 19, the California ballot initiative to control and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Women in cities across the nation will also be participating to show their support for marijuana legalization and announce efforts to begin organizing women in their areas.

You can help make this nationwide effort a huge success by attending the event nearest you.  Scroll down to see the complete list of WMM Day Of Action event locations and times.

This effort is being coordinated by the Women's Marijuana Movement, a project of SAFER intended to increase support for marijuana legalization among women.  If you have not already signed on to be a part of the movement you can do so today by visiting today.

Please note that locations have been added or changed in California, Florida, and Texas.

Event Times, Locations, and Contacts


Los Angeles
10:30 a.m.

In front of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca's office, 4700 W. Ramona Blvd., Monterey Park

Contact: Lynette Shaw, 323-334-6995
* Women will deliver Sheriff Baca a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *

11 a.m. 

In front of of Oakland City Hall, 
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
Contact:  Samantha Talavera, 602-430-1793

Redlands -- University of Redlands
12 p.m.
Hunsucker Plaza, University of Redlands, 
1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands
Contact: Andrew Bobroff, 410-804-3979

San Diego
10:30 a.m.
In front of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis's office
, 330 W. Broadway, San Diego
Contact: Gretchen Bergman, 619-884-3561
* Women will deliver District Attorney Dumanis a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *

San Jose -- San Jose State University
11 a.m.
Inside the Student Union, 1 Washington Square, San Jose
Contact: Fiza Najeeb, 925-872-2792

Santa Ana (Orange County)
11 a.m.
In front of Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens's office, 550 N. Flower St., Santa Ana
Contact:  Kandice Hawes, 724-928-9129
* Women will deliver Sheriff Hutchens a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *


12 p.m.
In front of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building
, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver (corner of Colfax & Bannock)
Contact:  Eva Enns, 720-620-5931


Ft. Lauderdale -- Florida Atlantic University
11:30 a.m.
In front of the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., 
Fort Lauderdale
Contact: Sabrina, 56-755-7506

6:45 p.m.
NE corner of Bruce B Downs Blvd. and E. Fowler Ave., Tampa
Contact: Cyndi Hamad, 727-421-7862


12 p.m.
In front of The Grove Plaza (Front St. & 8th Street)

Contact:  Theresa Knox, 208-353-7331


Columbia -- University of Missouri
11 a.m.
Speakers Circle
Contact:  Devon Slavens, 816-651-6405

1 p.m.
Spiva Park in front of The Globe
Contact: Linda Yelvington, 417-499-9055

Kansas City
10 a.m.
Liberty Memorial
, 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City
Contact:  Kelley Wesley, 417-327-9595


12:30 p.m.
NW Corner of the Higgins Street Bridge (near the Wilma Theatre), Missoula
Contact:  Heather Masterson, 406-370-0604


10 a.m.
27th and O St., Lincoln

Contact:  Melanie Marshall, 402-415-7373

12 PM 

72nd and Dodge, Omaha

Contact:  Melanie Marshall, 402-415-7373


12 p.m.
In front of the New Jersey State House Building, 
125 W. State St., Trenton
Contact: Dawn Schiaretti, 609-553-3783


Saratoga Springs
12 p.m.
Town Center, 
Corner of Lake and Broadway, near the police station, courthouse, and Skidmore University
Contact: Kat Dancz, 518-541-2719


4:30 p.m.
Pioneer Square at SW 6th & Broadway 

Contact:  Jennifer Alexander, 503-839-5969


11 a.m.
In front of the Texas Pioneer Woman Monument, Texas State Capitol Grounds
, 1100 Congress Ave.
Contact:  Cheyanne Weldon, 337-349-9314

College Station -- Texas A&M University
11 a.m.
In front of the Sul Ross statue by the Academic Building, Texas A&M University campus
Contact:  Pru Reardon, 713-560-2708

Fort Worth
11:30 a.m.
In front of the fountain on the east side of Tarrant County Courthouse, 100 E. Weatherford St., Fort Worth (corner of Weatherford and Commerce)
Contact:  Elizabeth Rodriguez, 817-896-4898

11 a.m. 

In front of City Hall, 901 Bagby St., Houston
Contact:  Anne Webster, 832-693-5800

Help Prop. 19 by Midnight Tonight

United States

"Stoners Against Prop 19" Disrupt Debate at Hemp Expo

Tensions within California's marijuana community over Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, boiled over at last weekend's debates between supporters and opponents at the Cow Palace in San Francisco during the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, a pot industry trade show.

The measure has garnered some loud opposition in the marijuana community, though the true extent of the opposition is unclear. Some medical marijuana providers are opposing it, arguing that it endangers the rights of patients, but raising the question of whether what is really being endangered is those providers' profits. [Ed: The proposition contains language which unambiguously protects patients.] Some growers are opposing it, for largely self-interested reasons. And some consumers are opposing it, arguing that it isn't good enough, they might have to pay taxes, and it would lead to the corporatization of cannabis.

That has excited a harsh response, not just from the Prop 19 campaign, but also from national marijuana reform organizations. NORML deputy director Paul Armentano likened self-styled Stoners Against Prop 19 to a fringe element and compared their refusal to acknowledge facts with that of the Obama birthers, while NORML outreach director Russ Bellville drafted a line-by-line analysis of the initiative to refute the critics. Cannabis expert and campaign spokesman Chris Conrad has published a Prop 19 Fact Check, and an addendum addressing what he calls Prop 19 conspiracy theories and their authors.

[Editor's Note: Look for a feature article in the next few days examining the claims and the forces aligned for and against Prop 19.]

Medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, the primary motivating force behind Prop 19, was subjected to loud heckling and shouting as he attempted to explain why pot people should vote for the initiative, which is holding onto a not-so-comfortable lead in polls heading up to the election now a month away. A disgusted Lee then rolled away in his wheelchair, leaving campaign spokesman and cannabis expert Chris Conrad to carry on.

San Francisco
United States

Prop 19 Hits 52% in Poll -- California Legalizing Marijuana?

Proposition 19, California's "tax and regulate" marijuana legalization initiative, is winning, according to the latest poll results. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Thursday had support for Prop 19 at 52%, with 41% opposed and 7% undecided.

Prop 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 25 square feet of marijuana by adults over 21. It would also allow counties or municipalities the local option of allowing a taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. It would not affect California's medical marijuana law.

The survey question asked: "Proposition 19 is called the 'Legalizes Marijuana Under California but Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.' If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?"

The survey was conducted by telephone (both land lines and cell phones) with 2,004 adult California residents in English or Spanish. It has a margin of error of +/-3%.

The poll is in line with most recent polls, which show the initiative leading by a few points. It is also noteworthy for showing support levels above 50%, something Prop 19 has had trouble doing in most other polls.

The poll suggests a strong correlation between political affiliation and support or opposition to the initiative. Strong majorities of Democrats (63%) and independents (65%) support the measure, while a strong majority of Republicans (62%) oppose it.

While that correlation has been fairly consistent among recent polls, this poll found a high level of support for Prop 19 among Hispanics (63%) than the other polls, most of which had Hispanic support at under 50%. The poll had support among whites at 50% and didn't ask about blacks, who make up only 6% of the California electorate.

As in other recent polls, majorities in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles area support Prop 19, while a majority in the Central Valley does not. Young adults (70%) support Prop 19, while those over 35 are split.

California may legalize marijuana on November 2. But the vote is going to be close, so if you're a Californian please get to California's polls, and tell everyone you know in California who might support this to do so too.

United States

Marijuana Questions on Some Massachusetts Ballots [FEATURE]

Voters in 73 Massachusetts cities and towns will be voting on a number of Public Policy Questions (PPQs) related to medical marijuana and marijuana legalization this November. Those towns and cities make up 18 state representative districts and account for about 12% of the state population.

Under Massachusetts law, citizens can petition to put PPQs on the ballot. The non-binding votes are a signal to legislators of voter sentiment on a given issue in the district.

2008 "Freedom Rally," Boston Common (via
The organizers of this year's PPQ campaign are the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts (DPFMA), the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann/NORML), Suffolk University NORML, the UMass Amherst Cannabis Reform Coalition, and War on Lies, an on-again, off-again walk across America for marijuana freedom.

This year's PPQs are just the latest in a decade long effort to turn the marijuana policy tide in Massachusetts. Beginning in 2000, activists began using PPQs. Since then, they have passed 41 and lost none on medical marijuana, decriminalization, hemp, and most recently, legalization or tax and regulate. The PPQs passed with an average of 64.5% of the vote. Those PPQs laid the groundwork for the successful 2008 marijuana decriminalization initiative, and now, organizers hope to use them to push forward on legalization and medical marijuana.

"This is a continuation of that process," said DPFMA's John Leonard.

"We have a bunch of PPQs this year," said Bill Downing of MassCann/NORML. "There are a set of medical marijuana ones and a set of legalization ones. We're using the medical ones strategically to target individuals who have sway, and for the legalization ones, we used the results of the 2008 decriminalization vote to target communities with high decrim vote levels."

In nine districts, voters will be asked if state representatives from that district should be instructed to vote in favor of legalization. The wording of the PPQs varies slightly, with one asking if marijuana should be regulated "in the same manner as alcohol," and another mentioning "the taxation, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults."

In the other nine districts, voters will be asked to urge state representatives to vote in favor of medical marijuana legislation. Again, there is slight variation, with some PPQs asking about a doctor's recommendation and others specifying a recommendation "from a doctor or other caregiver."

"For medical marijuana, we looked at the real enemies of marijuana reform and targeted those districts," said Leonard. "We can go into a district and win by 60% or 70%, and if it doesn't change the legislator's mind, it will at least silence him. It has the effect of quieting down a lot of opposition."

history's dustbin: anti-Prop 2 (marijuana decrim) press conference, 2008 (Prop 2 passed)
Sometimes, the PPQs can turn former foes into allies, Leonard said. "We did it to Sen. Shannon, our PPQ got 67% of the vote, and he changed his position on marijuana 180 degrees. He became a convert and sponsored our decriminalization bill," he elaborated. "That same year, we did medical marijuana in the district of a Republican member of the health committee, and she became a sponsor of our medical bill."

PPQs can also win over another potential ally, said Leonard. "PPQs are the grunt work to prepare for an initiative, and they let people know there is a lot of support out there. They tend to bring newspaper editorial boards over to our side, and if an initiative does come, those editorials are important," he said.

In addition to putting politicians on notice, the PPQs serve other purposes, Downing said. "They provide the local press with evidence there is support for reform, as well as local supporters who might be interested in giving us financial support. Likewise, if there are people with money who want in invest in a state where it was pretty darned sure, we want to make it easy for them in Massachusetts."

"It's also a signal to national funders that these are winnable," Leonard pointed out. "The decriminalization initiative would not have happened without the PPQs. There are always polls, but these are actual votes, and people pay attention to that."

"It cost us nothing to run PPQs," said MASSCANN's Downing. "It's an all-volunteer effort so far, but we do have a budget for a legalization campaign that has been very carefully worked on. We're trying to start raising money for that, and I expect we will have made some from this year's Freedom Rally."

Although MASSCANN and DPFMA have a history of working together on the PPQs, there is space between them on the issue of legalization. While MASSCANN is rearing to go, DPFMA doesn't think the state is ready.

"Some people in MASSCANN think we should just go ahead on legalization, but at DPFMA, I think we feel legalization isn't that close," said Leonard. "We might score high with tax and regulate in some of these communities, but it's new, and once people throw all the scare tactics at it, support could drop a bit. I don't want a tax and regulate initiative without doing further work, doing more polling, having a large advertising budget. You should proceed cautiously," he cautioned.

"We've really done our homework with medical marijuana and decriminalization, but we're just putting our toes in the water with tax and regulate. What we do see that we're totally ripe for is a medical marijuana initiative. A strongly worded initiative without emasculated language like in Arizona could be put on the ballot and win easily," Leonard said.

This year's medical marijuana PPQs are part of that strategy, Leonard said. "We're bringing two of them within Scott Brown's old state senate seat, and a couple more where legislators have been strongly against marijuana reform. We're doing it in the worst districts we could do it in, and we're confident we will win."

DPFMA is pursuing the opposite strategy with its tax and regulate PPQs. "We're doing the most liberal districts and I think we'll do respectably in every district we target," Leonard said. "We are hoping with wins in these districts to make it legitimate for officials and candidates to talk about tax and regulate and not get tarred and feathered."

To the extent that PPQs or some other form of non-binding resolution local initiative exists in other states and localities, activists should take advantage of it, said Leonard. "This is a way for local people to do something, and you don't have to have a lot of money. I hope we inspire people all across the country to use this tactic. It's really politically effective."

United States

Statewide Women's Day of Action/Rally & Book Delivery to OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

This action is part of a larger, national push (read below).  Please contact for more information.

The Women's Marijuana Movement is coordinating a nationwide Day Of Action on Oct. 5th to increase support for Proposition 19 in California, during which women all over the country will hold press conferences and rallies to spread the message that WOMEN feel cannabis legalization will make their communities safer and a better place to live, and to educate the public about the not-well-known-enough fact that marijuana is far safer than alcohol.  We have a page up on our website promoting the event here:

In California, women will hold their events outside of or near the offices of members of law enforcement who have formally come out against Prop 19, and they will deliver copies of the book "Marijuana Is Safer" to the opponents themselves.  You can see the full list of opponents here:

On campuses nationwide, female students will hold events, and/or table, and distribute information about the relative safety of marijuana and talk about why they feel Prop 19 or something similar in their own state would make their communities and campuses a safer place.

And in states other than California, women will be holding press conferences, small rallies, and events to talk about how they support California's attempt to legalize and how something similar in their own state would greatly benefit them.

In all cases, we have prepared the targets for action (in California), materials for distribution, and statements to read to any media who report on the Day Of Action.  Minimally, all an organizer or attendee needs to do is invite other supportive women to join them for about an hour (tops) around noon on Oct. 5.  Women are welcome and encouraged to bring their children.

This Day Of Action is intended to generate broad media coverage that women support legalization, change the way people think about the misconceived harms of marijuana, and ultimately increase support among women for Prop 19.  Polling is showing that while men are supportive of Prop 19, women are split.  You can check out our last marijuana-related Day Of Action and tremendous press it generated here:

Please let me know as early as possible if you're interested in organizing or attending an event for this Day Of Action, or if you have any questions.  Additionally, we are open to any ideas you have that you'd like to incorporate into or use for this Day Of Action.

Thank you!
Eva Enns
WMM Coordinator
SAFER Outreach Director

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:00am - 1:00pm
550 N. Flower St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
United States

Prop 19 Takes Seven Point Lead in Latest Field Poll

In a dramatic reversal from just two months ago, California's Proposition 19 marijuana legalization initiative has opened up a seven point lead in the latest Field poll. In July, the Field poll had Prop 19 trailing 44% to 48%; the latest poll, released Sunday, has it leading 49% to 42% with Election Day just six weeks away.

This latest Field poll is in line with other recent polls, most of which show Prop 19 leading, though still short of the 50% plus one needed to guarantee victory on November 2.

The poll was taken by telephone between September 14 and 21 and conducted in English and Spanish.

Support for Prop 19 was strongest among Democrats (60%), San Francisco Bay Area residents (59%), the 18-to-39 age group (59%), Los Angeles County residents (58%), Coastal county residents (54%), and men (54%). Support for Prop 19 was weakest among Republicans (27%), Central Valley residents (30%), voters over 65 (36%), and residents of Inland counties (37%).

Prop 19 continues to trail among women voters (44%) and to trail slightly among Hispanic (46%) and African-American (47%) voters. It has the support of 50% of white voters.

Neither the Prop 19 campaign nor its opposition has engaged in statewide advertising campaigns as the clock ticks toward election day. But Prop 19 is benefiting from the massive media attention it has generated. More than eight out of 10 (84%) California voters have heard about Prop 19, and 50% of those say they will vote for it.

Marijuana legalization in California is within grasp this November. Get out the vote efforts will be critical as this race goes to the wire.

United States

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