Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2012
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2012 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold


A majority of Colorado voters support a ballot measure to legalize 
limited possession of marijuana, according to a new Denver Post poll.

The poll found that the measure, Amendment 64, has the support of 51 
percent of likely voters surveyed, compared with 40 percent opposed. 
Men favor the measure more than women, a common gender split on the 
issue. But 49 percent of women polled said they support the measure, 
compared with 39 percent who said they are opposed.

Across every income bracket and in every age group except those 65 
and older, more voters told pollsters they support the measure than 
oppose it, though some of the leads fall within the 
4-percentage-point margin of error. Voters younger than 35 support 
the measure by a margin of 30 percentage points, 61 percent to 31 
percent, according to the poll.

The automated telephone poll was conducted Sept. 9-12 for The Post by 
New Jersey-based SurveyUSA. About 26 percent of those questioned were 
cellphone-only users, who were shown a questionnaire on their 
smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. Of voters included in 
the sample, 34 percent said they are Republicans, 34 percent said 
they are Democrats, and 30 percent identified as unaffiliated voters.

While several previous polls have found more support for Amendment 64 
than opposition, the Post's survey is the first independent poll to 
find more than 50 percent support.

That may not hold until Election Day - support for a 2010 
marijuana-legalization measure in California polled at 52 percent 
three months before the election, while the measure ultimately failed 
with 54 percent opposition. But the results suggest Colorado could be 
in position to become the first state in the nation to legalize 
marijuana possession for adults for recreational use.

They also pose a challenge for the re-election campaign of President 
Barack Obama, who across the country is courting the young voters who 
support marijuana legalization while remaining opposed to the policy change.

In the run-up to the Democratic National Convention, Obama's campaign 
released a video intended to connect with young voters that featured 
actors John Cho and Kal Penn. The pair are best known for playing the 
titular stoners of the marijuana-laced "Harold and Kumar" movie 
franchise. While the video was a hit with some supporters - "Such an 
awesome video Mr. President," one commenter wrote on YouTube - it 
incensed marijuana activists who saw it as hypocrisy.

The conflict is particularly acute in Colorado, not only because of 
Amendment 64's presence on the ballot but also because the Justice 
Department has recently begun taking action to shut down 
medical-marijuana dispensaries near schools. Banks in Colorado, 
fearful of federal regulations against working with illegal 
businesses, have refused to do business with state-legal 
medical-marijuana businesses.

Banking restrictions forced Wanda James to close her Denver 
medical-marijuana-products business last month. James, who served on 
Obama's national campaign finance committee in 2008 and personally 
contributed $25,000 along with her husband, said this year she won't 
help Obama's re-election bid.

James said she feels insulted every time a flier asking her to give 
to Obama's campaign arrives in her mailbox.

"I was on your finance committee," James said. "You destroyed my 
business. Now you want me to give you money?"

James said she will still vote for Obama, hoping that his policies 
change during a second term. But she notes that, if enough marijuana 
supporters decide to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson - 
who supports marijuana legalization - it could cost Obama the state 
and the election.

Johnson is, in fact, counting on the pot vote in Colorado. He has 
held campaign events at medical-marijuana dispensaries in Denver.

"Whether or not that equates to votes, we'll see," Johnson said. "But 
I do view this issue as an example of myself putting issues before politics."

Johnson - who registers at 3 percent in the Post poll - is right to 
be cautious about the interplay of marijuana politics and voter 
turnout. A Post analysis in 2010 found no evidence that marijuana 
initiatives drive up turnout or influence candidate selection. Daniel 
Smith, a University of Florida political-science professor, said 
ballot initiatives can sometimes have an impact on turnout - but 
almost never in presidential elections, where the top-line race 
overshadows everything else.

"This marijuana-legalization measure may be bringing some people to 
the polls," Smith said, "but very few of them wouldn't be coming otherwise."

Colorado marijuana activist Rico Colibri said he expects Amendment 64 
to have little impact on the presidential race. Despite disagreeing 
with Obama's marijuana policies, Colibri said he plans to cast "a 
reluctant vote" for him.

"His stance on marijuana certainly isn't great," Colibri said. "Then 
again, he could be taking a much more aggressive stance, and he isn't."

How this poll was conducted

This SurveyUSA poll was conducted by telephone in the voice of a 
professional announcer. The poll has a margin of error of plus or 
minus 4 percentage points. Respondent households were selected at 
random, using Random Digit Dialed samples provided by Survey Sampling 
of Fairfield Conn., unless otherwise indicated on the individual poll 
report. All respondents heard the questions asked identically. The 
number of respondents who answered each question and the margin of 
sampling error for each question are provided. Where necessary, 
responses were weighted according to age, gender, ethnic origin, 
geographical area and number of adults and number of voice telephone 
lines in the household, so that the sample would reflect the actual 
demographic proportions in the population, using most recent 
U.S.Census estimates. In theory, with the stated sample size, one can 
say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than 
the stated margin of sampling error, in one direction or the other, 
had the entire universe of respondents been interviewed with complete 
accuracy. Fieldwork for this survey was done by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom