Marijuana Legalization, Tax Measures Draw Voter Support in New Poll

A bud grows on a marijuana plant at Oaksterdam University Oakland, California.

A bud grows on a marijuana plant at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California. (Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has good news for several of the 17 measures on the November statewide ballot, including Proposition 64 to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Proposition 64 gets the support of 60 percent of likely voters. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 64 percent of nonpartisan or independent voters are most likely to support the idea. Republicans are more divided, with 46 percent supporting and 52 percent opposed to legalizing marijuana use for adults.

Proposition 55 would extend an income tax on high-wage earners to fund education in the state. Of likely voters, 54 percent say they support the measure.

Fifty-nine percent of likely voters approve of Proposition 56, which would place a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

The only measure without a majority of voter approval is Proposition 51. It would allow the state to issue $9 billion in bonds to fund school construction and modernization projects. Of likely voters, 47 percent say they would support the measure, while 43 percent say they would vote no.

But groups supporting propositions currently doing well with voters shouldn’t take anything for granted. PPIC president and CEO Mark Baldassare says a lot can happen between now and November.

“We know that, in the past, measures that have started out with strong favor in the month of September,” he says, “can see dramatic declines if the no side has substantial resources and makes a case that resonates with voters.”

Another new survey, the Field Poll, finds less support for each of the two death penalty-related measures on the ballot. Proposition 62, which would repeal the state’s death penalty, falls just short of the simple majority it needs to pass, with 48 percent of likely voters supporting it. Thirty-seven percent oppose the measure, while 15 percent remain undecided.

Proposition 66, a rival measure to speed up the death penalty process, has the support of just 35 percent of voters. However, 42 percent remain undecided and 23 percent say they oppose it.

The PPIC survey also polled voters on major political races in the state. It found Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a 16-point lead over Republican rival Donald Trump at 47 to 31 percent. Clinton’s lead extends through all age, education and income groups. But the polls finds both candidates have the backing of their party’s voters: 83 percent of Democrats favor Clinton, while 73 percent of Republicans favor Trump.

Baldassare says while just 4 percent of likely voters remain undecided in the presidential race, there’s still a tremendous interest in election-related news.

“Sixty-one percent in our latest poll are saying they’re very closely following the news,” he says. “That’s higher than we’ve seen all year. And it’s much higher than we’ve seen in previous election cycles at this same time.”

In the race to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the PPIC survey shows California Attorney General Kamala Harris leading Orange County congresswoman Loretta Sanchez 32 percent to 25 percent. That’s a smaller lead than Harris received in a Field Poll released on Wednesday, which has her up 42 percent to 20 percent over Sanchez.

Harris and Sanchez are both Democrats. They finished first and second in the state’s new top-two primary system. And the lack of a Republican candidate in the November election appears to be rankling some GOP voters. Both polls found a large percentage of Republicans saying they won’t cast a vote in the Senate race. PPIC finds 42 percent of Republicans will sit out that race. The Field Poll put that number at 30 percent.

Marijuana Legalization, Tax Measures Draw Voter Support in New Poll 23 September,2016Katie Orr


Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED's Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She's also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She's been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country's top state Capitol reporters.   She's also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr

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