A new LA Times/USC poll finds Prop 19 trailing 51 percent to 39 percent. In a year of wacky polling when everyone is debating likely turnout models, polling on Prop 19 has been all over the map.
In September, PPIC had an outlier poll that found Prop 19 ahead 52-41. Yesterday they released another poll found there had been a 16 point swing, to 44-49. On the other hand, Survey USA found Prop 19 leading 48-41 in September, and holding somewhat steady at 48-44 this week.
Somebody has to be wrong. But SurveyUSA is the only polling firm that is releasing its likely voter models for public scrutiny, so it’s difficult to compare either the PPIC or the LA Times/USC polls in terms of methodology. PPIC released many of its findings, but not its likely voter model.
Several things are worth noting:
1. The polling methodology being used on this issue is more appropriate to partisan office holders rather than ballot measures. On an issue like Prop 19, where age is a much stronger predictor of support than partisan affiliation, the samples being taken among 18-39 year olds is probably small enough to be statistically insignificant. The LA Times poll finds that voters under 40 only favor it by 48 percent to 37 percent. That’s inconsistent with the findings of just about every other poll, and considering the fact that they only poll 441 likely voters, the margin of error is going to be enormous.
2. The PPIC polls from September to October are worth comparing on an apples-to-apples basis, however. Support among Latinos has eroded from 63 percent to 42 percent. Polling has indicated that support among Hispanic voters increase when they are told that Prop 19 will save money on incarcerations, and the Voto Latino’s California voter guide (PDF) says:
Financial Impact: Estimated savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually for state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. It is currently unknown but there could potentially be an increased amount of revenue for state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
It’s unfortunate that nobody has launched a Hispanic radio campaign, because there is virtually no money on the “no” side of the issue. It’s long been apparent that marijuana measures pass largely on the basis of public enthusiasm, however, regardless of the skill level of those running the campaigns.
3. Robert Cruickshank of the Courage Campaign says that anecdotally, he’s hearing that Eric Holder’s bombastic and threatening statement against Prop 19 has had an impact on turning off supporters, but it’s hard to know if that’s showing up in the polls.
4. It’s all going to come down to turnout. Will young voters buck historic midterm trends and show up for Prop 19? As Jon Walker noted, among those who have already sent in their ballots, Prop 19 is narrowly losing. But it leads among those who plan to vote and have not done so. If there was ever a measure in need of a crack turnout operation, this is it. Unfortunately, there never really was one assembled due to lack of resources.
If you want Prop 19 to pass, get to the phones. Calling likely Prop 19 supporters and personally asking them to vote is one of the best ways to get them to the polls, and Just Say Now phone bankers have already put in over 10,000 calls.