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Latest Field Poll shows voters turning against marijuana proposition

October 31, 2010 | 12:46 pm

Californians who plan to cast ballots are turning against Proposition 19, the measure to legalize marijuana, according to the Field Poll, which found likely voters were opposed to it, 49% to 42%.

That’s a reversal from last month, when the poll found likely voters favored it. Among those polled, 9% are still undecided, a figure that has been relatively unchanged for months.

Mark DiCamillo, the pollster, said he believed that U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s promise to enforce federal drug laws no matter what California voters did was persuasive. He also noted that the campaign was largely uneventful until Holder’s late-in-the-game entry.

"I think voters were toying with Proposition 19," he said, noting that the Field Poll and others had found that about half the electorate favored legalizing marijuana but that support for this initiative had slipped. "In the final analysis, they just didn’t think it was realistic."

The poll found the biggest drop in support among Democrats, who backed it by 60% last month and now supported it by 51%. Men also have switched sides, moving from 54%-38% for it to 48%-44% against it. Voters ages 40 to 49 also flipped, from 53% in favor to 52% opposed.

Opposition also increased among women and voters who are 65 or older.

Support remains strongest among the youngest voters. Voters ages 18 to 39 backed it by a 26-point margin last month and still favored it by a 16-point margin.

Proposition 19 would allow adults 21 and older to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana, and it would allow cities and counties to authorize commercial production and retail sales.

The proposal remains popular in the San Francisco Bay Area, the home field of the most prominent marijuana activists, and pulled ahead elsewhere in Northern California. It is behind in Southern California and the Central Valley. In Los Angeles County, where a quarter of the voters reside, it was ahead, 58% to 37%, last month, but had fallen behind and was now opposed, 51% to 38%.

The Field Poll also found that likely voters remained opposed to Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s global warming law. They oppose it 48% to 33%, with 19% undecided.

Likely voters favor Proposition 25, which would allow the Legislature to approve a state budget on a majority vote, rather than two-thirds. They back it 48% to 31%, with 21% undecided.

Field polled 1,501 registered voters, with 1,092 being likely voters, Oct. 14-26. Interviewers called voters on the phone and conducted the survey in six languages. The poll of likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

-- John Hoeffel