by David Downs
Now that the entire universe has focused on California's push to legalize herb, the question remains: How many people will actually vote for it? Probably the number one statistic referenced is a one-year-old Field Poll that says 56 percent of voters would go for it. But there's some problems with that:
For one, the Field Poll is a year old. A lot has changed. The campaign has gone global. All of California's gubernatorial candidates have lined up against it. Reformers have a huge new online campaign. And the old Reefer Madness rhetoric has come back with a vengeance.
Two: people saying 'sure' to a Field Poll is different that people actually voting. Agreeing over the phone to a new sin tax isn't the same as say — stepping into the voting booth and revoking 70 years of prohibition.
Three: the poll doesn't adjust for 2010 voters. 2010 is an election without a presidential race, and many politicos assume such mid-term elections bring out older, whiter, more conservative citizens. The kids could stay home.
I asked Doug Linney, an East Bay political consultant who helps run the Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign in Oakland about it. He said the campaign did private polls last fall that account for mid-term voters. In them, the 56 percent margin in the Field Poll was diminished by a few points. Linney said it's still over 50 percent.
However, there is a margin of error to any statistical analysis that could erode this majority even further.
At best, legalizing cannabis may enjoy a slight edge in popularity in California, but it's a razor-thin one. Tax Cannabis 2010 supporters are going to have to register to vote, and then actually vote. It will be out of character for some of them, compared to what will generally be a dedicated, elderly opposition who vote early, and often.
Linney said Tax Cannabis 2010 plans to do new polling soon.