Marijuana is up for legalization in California this November. Will the measure--Proposition 19--pass? New numbers from Public Policy Polling are favorable: 47% to 38%. But there are a couple of quirks and complicating factors in this vote.

  • What Legalization Proponents Should Be Worried About  One thing to take note of, says Jon Walker at liberal Firedoglake, "is that the ballot measure is polling just below 50 percent, which is generally considered a danger zone for ballot measures. Undecideds tend to break against ballot questions" in favor of the status quo, as a default choice for when they don't have a strong position or enough information on a question. "The second concern is that since July, when PPP last polled this question, support for Prop 19 has fallen modestly from 52 percent yes, 36 percent no." Doug Mataconis puts the first concern into perspective: "Yes is polling under 50%, which is essentially the same place that the No vote on Proposition 8 was polling in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election."
  • Not Necessarily Along Party Lines  "It really doesn't break down along party lines to the same extent most of the things we poll do," comments Tom Jensen at the Public Policy Polling blog. "56% of Democrats support it to 28% opposed and 30% of Republicans support it with 57% opposed. That's a lot more division within the ranks of both parties than we're seeing on a lot of stuff."
  • Except Where It Revs Up Young Democratic Enthusiasm  "One of the more interesting things about Prop 19, though," writes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, "is the fact that it may actually be helping undercut the enthusiasm gap that Democrats are facing in the rest of the nation." Jon Walker explains the broader effect: "having Prop 19 on the ballot is actually making young voters enthusiastic about voting for it."
  • Opposition from the Alcohol Industry  The California Beer & Beverage Distributors group is "putting a lot of money" into defeating Proposition 19, notices Mataconis.
The irony of the alcohol industry opposing an initiative to legalize marijuana is, I am sure, not lost on anyone. It is, roughly, the equivalent of the gambling industry opposing the opening of horse tracks and off-track betting, and on some level a recognition of the fact that there really isn’t any functional equivalent between the two products other than the fact that one happens to be illegal.
  • And Opposition From 'Medical Marijuana Supporters,' notices Reason's Brian Doherty. "Far from the slippery slope its enemies felt medical pot was toward full legalization, medical pot has created a set of entrenched interests happy with things pretty much the way they are, and fearing Prop 19's effects."