September 23, 2016 – California voters are lining up in favor of two closely watched statewide ballot propositions that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana (Proposition 64) and place further restrictions on the possession of guns (Proposition 63).
The latest Field/IGS Poll finds both ballot measures leading by similar two-to-one margins. Six in ten of the likely voters polled (60%) say they intend to vote Yes on Prop. 64 to legalize marijuana for adult use and tax its sale and cultivation. This compares to 31% who are on the No side. Just 9% are undecided.
By a similar 60% Yes to 30% No margin, voters are also backing Prop. 63, which among other things would require background checks for those who buy ammunition, prohibit possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and establish procedures for taking guns away from convicted felons.
Support for both initiatives is broad-based and there is considerable overlap in the voting constituencies favoring each initiative. The voter segments most likely to be voting Yes on each measure include Democrats, liberals, and voters living in coastal counties.
Two-to-one support for Prop. 64 to legalize marijuana
Likely voters in this survey were presented with the official ballot summary that they will see when voting on Prop. 64 in the November general election, and asked how they would vote if the election were held today. The results show voters favoring the marijuana legalization initiative two to one (60% to 31%). Just 9% are undecided.
History of marijuana ballot initiatives in California and changes in public opinion
In 1996 California became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes when it approved Proposition 215 by an eleven point margin, 55.6% to 44.4%. However, two previous attempts to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use through the initiative process have failed at the polls, the first more than forty years ago in 1972, and more recently in 2010. The 1972 initiative was soundly rejected 66.5% to 33.5%. But, the vote in 2010 was much closer, with the No side prevailing by just seven points, 53.5% to 46.5%. Since then, four states, including Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, along with the District of Columbia, have passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults.
The Field Poll has been tracking Californians’ views about marijuana laws for nearly fifty years. The first poll, conducted in 1969, found just 13% of residents in favor of its legalization, while 84% were opposed. By 1983 support for legalization had grown to 30%, but 67% remained opposed. However, by 2010 half of the state’s registered voters (50%) favored its legalization, and a subsequent Field Poll conducted in 2013 found support had grown further to 55%.
Thus, the current Field/IGS Poll showing 60% of likely voters in support of Prop. 64 represents the largest proportion of California voters expressing support for the legalization of the drug in the history of the poll.
Broad-based support for Prop. 64 (marijuana legalization) among subgroups of the likely voter population
Current support for Prop. 64, the marijuana legalization initiative, is broad-based and now includes majorities across nearly all major subgroups of the likely voter population. The only major voter segments currently opposed to the initiative are Republicans and conservatives.
Voters also support Prop. 63, the gun control initiative, two to one
California voters are also endorsing Prop 63, the initiative to place further restrictions on the possession of guns, by a two-to-one margin. When likely voters in this survey were presented with the official ballot summary that they will see when voting on Prop. 64 in the November general election and asked how they would vote if the election were held today, 60% line up on the Yes side, while 30% are intending to vote No.
If passed, the measure would impose additional gun control restrictions to those already approved by the legislature and governor earlier this year. Among other things the initiative calls for requiring background checks for those who buy ammunition, prohibiting the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and establishing new procedures for taking guns away from convicted felons and other not authorized to use them.
Voter segments supporting Prop. 63 mirror those of Prop. 64
The Field/IGS Poll finds that the voter segments lining up in support of the Prop. 63 gun control initiative are generally the same as those supporting the Prop. 64 marijuana legalization initiative. Support for both initiatives is broad-based and the subgroups most likely to voting Yes include Democrats, liberals, and voters living in the state’s coastal counties.