Buzz Kill

New Survey Finds Support Fading for Roll ‘Em and Smoke ‘Em Initiative

A new statewide poll shows a ballot measure to legalize and tax marijuana is trailing and in trouble.


In a blow to California’s far-flung community of recreational smokers and tokers, Proposition 19, which would make the state the first in the union to decriminalize the possession and sale of pot, is losing: 44 percent of likely voters are in favor and 48 percent against, according to the just-released Field Poll.

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As a practical matter, the four-point gap may seem negligible, with nearly four months to go before the November 2 election. As a political matter, however, the prognosis for the initiative is not good: Not only has support for Prop. 19 slipped since the last survey in May, but sponsors are also faced with some strong historical trends. Since 1911, when the state’s initiative and referendum system began, the “no” position has defeated the “yes” position about two-thirds of the time; when a measure begins with less than 60 percent of voters in favor, it almost always loses.

“History suggests that chances aren’t good when you start out behind,” Mark DiCamillo, the director of the poll, told the L.A. Times, adding that it’s still too early to write off the measure. “It depends on the quality of the campaign.”

Prop. 19 would authorize the possession, cultivation, and transportation of pot by adults for personal use, while giving local governments the right to regulate and tax its sale. Not surprisingly, voters 30 and younger strongly support it, as do Woodstock-era boomers between the ages of 50 and 64.

MEG-A-BUCKS VS. CHURCH MOUSE BROWN: As Republican Meg Whitman stepped up her TV-ad carpet-bombing of Democrat Jerry Brown, the Field survey reported their race for governor is essentially tied. With Attorney General Brown at 44 percent and former eBay CEO Whitman at 43 percent, there was good news and bad news for both candidates in the new poll.

Brown partisans are pleased to have a dead heat at this point, given that Whitman has already spent a record-shattering $100 million on her campaign and he has spent virtually nothing. They also point to numbers showing that one net result of her spreading around the cash — about $2 million a week since the start of the year — is that voters now look unfavorably on Whitman, with 42 percent saying they have a negative impression and 40 percent a positive one, a 15-point shift since the last poll in March, when her favorability rating was 40-to-27 percent to the good.

But the Whitman camp trumpeted her substantial gains among Latino voters, a crucial constituency for Democrats. With the Republican having cranked up an expensive Spanish-language advertising effort, she now trails Brown only 39-to-50 percent, a big net swing of 18 points in her favor from the earlier poll. Another grim number for Brown is this: eMeg holds a lead — 42-to-39 percent — among the independent, nonpartisan voters who often hold the balance of power in statewide races.

With Whitman airing a steady series of tough ads attacking Brown’s record the first time he served as governor, from 1975-1983, Democrats are growing increasingly nervous about his rope-a-dope strategy of allowing many of her charges to go unanswered on the air, as he continues to save his money for the fall.

SENATORIAL SWEEPSTAKES: Although incumbent U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer holds a slight, 47-to-44 percent, lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard Company, Field gives the Democrat her lowest job rating since 2006: Only 42 percent approve of her performance in the Senate, while 48 percent disapprove, a worrisome position for any officeholder in a year when incumbents are an endangered species.

Part of the explanation is that Boxer was battered with months of attacks by three Republicans who fought each other in the GOP primary for the right to take her on, at the same time Whitman and her defeated rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, also used her as a political piñata in their contest for the party’s nomination for governor, competing with each to bash Boxer over her liberal record and views.

In a race with a big gender gap — Boxer leads among women 51-to-40 percent while Fiorina leads among men 49-to-42 percent — the best news for the incumbent is that she holds a substantial edge among independents, 47-to-39 percent.

Pollster DiCamillo’s bottom line — “She is vulnerable.”


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