Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marijuana Legalization in Arizona: Polls Come Up With Wildly Different Levels of Support

Marijuana Legalization in Arizona: Polls Come Up With Wildly Different Levels of Support

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Marijuana legalization in Arizona is either clearly supported by most people, or clearly not supported by most people, depending on which poll results you look at.

Although two polls released earlier this year seemed to show most people were on-board with legalization, a poll released today says the opposite.

See also:
-Marijuana Legalization Supported by More Than Half of Arizonans, Poll Says
-Marijuana Policy Project Plans Arizona Legalization Measure for 2016
Susquehanna Polling and Research's poll today says 60 percent of the voters it surveyed oppose legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Just 36 percent support it, the poll says.

The survey results say:
A 60-36 margin against legalization of marijuana shows fairly broad based opposition to the idea including opposition by a majority of Republicans (75%) and Democrats (51%) while Independents split equally 47-47. Senior citizens oppose legalization 71-28, which is a critical constituency all politicians will not want to alienate. Clearly, the legalization of marijuana is opposed by almost all demographic groups and even slightly opposed among Democrats in the state. Only independent voters particularly in the Pima [County] area . . . might be open to the issue but even among them the issue is basically tied.
A couple of notes: Susquehanna readily admits on its website that it only does polls for political candidates who are Republicans. In Pennsylvania, where the company is based, it found President Obama and Mitt Romney tied in the state, three days before Election Day. Obama won by more than 5 percentage points, and every other poll in the state conducted within two weeks of the election found Obama leading by between 3 and 6 percentage points.

With all of that said, back in May, a Behavior Research Center poll found that 56 percent of the people it surveyed were in favor of legalizing marijuana in Arizona.

(A note on that: Although polling guru Nate Silver has said that the Behavior Research Center "has had good results in the past," it was the only polling firm to find Obama leading Romney at any point in Arizona in 2012, including a month before the election. Romney won the state very easily, by more than 9 percentage points.)

Then there's the third poll, from Public Policy Polling, which found at the beginning of the year that nearly 60 percent of the Arizonans it surveyed supported marijuana legalization.

Keeping with our accuracy comparisons with 2012 presidential election results, Public Policy Polling, although it does polling for Democrats, was hailed for its accuracy during that election.

Although there's an effort to gather the signatures to put marijuana legalization on the Arizona ballot next year, the effort lacks a major funding source, so it's unlikely that there actually will be a vote on the issue in the near future.

However, the national group that backed Arizona's medical-marijuana law plans to support a legalization effort here in 2016.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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