Poll: Ethnic Voters Will Likely Defeat Marijuana Legalization

Poll: Ethnic Voters Will Likely Defeat Marijuana Legalization

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State voters narrowly oppose Proposition 19, the initiative to tax and regulate marijuana – 48 percent to 44 percent -- with ethnic voters playing a decisive role in the outcome, according to The Field Poll released Friday.

The poll found that whites supported the initiative to legalize marijuana 48 to 43 percent, while Latinos and Asian Americans oppose it by nearly a two-to-one-margin, 36 to 62 percent and 33 to 62 percent, respectively. African Americans oppose the initiative by a smaller, but still double-digit margin, 40 percent to 52 percent.

Kenneth Williams, a 55-year-old custodian from Carson, said he opposes the initiative because “it would make everything get out of control.”

Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said among the 10 initiatives on the November ballot, Prop. 19 is the best known initiative, with 77 percent of poll respondents saying they have heard of it. The poll found that those who have not heard of the measure were more likely to vote against it by a 2-to-1 margin.

With eight percent of state voters undecided on Prop. 19, said DiCamillio, “it is somewhat encouraging for opponents of the measure if they can get out there and reach everyone who hasn’t heard of it.”

Proposition 23 is another contentious ballot initiative in which ethnic voters could tip the scales. Prop. 23 calls for the suspension of AB 32, California’s law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, until California’s jobless rate – 12.4 percent now -- drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

Forty-eight percent of respondents oppose the passage of Prop. 23, while 36 percent approve of the measure. Sixteen percent are undecided.

Among poll respondents, a majority of whites -- 51 percent -- oppose Prop. 23, 33 percent would vote yes, and 16 percent are undecided.

Among ethnic and racial voters, more African Americans approve of the passage of the initiative to suspend AB 32 -- 43 percent said they would vote for Prop. 23 compared to 29 percent who would vote no, while 28 percent were undecided. Latinos and Asian Americans are split on the measure –42 to 45 percent and 40 to 43 percent, respectively.

“There’s a somewhat greater concern about unemployment in the African-American community. That’s what’s tipping voters to the ‘yes’ side instead of the ‘no’ side,” said DiCamillo.

Pete Nguyen, 33, a teacher from Garden Grove, said he would vote against Prop. 23 because of the initiative’s wording.

“Determining when the economy comes up again, it’s hard to determine that. I wouldn’t want to leave it up to something arbitrary,” he said.

Prop. 23 could have an impact on the governor’s race, DiCamillio said, as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown supports AB 32, while his opponent Republican candidate Meg Whitman has said she supports suspending the state’s climate law for one year.

According to poll results, undecided voters in the governor’s race are leaning toward a “no” vote on Prop. 23 -- 49 to 31 percent.

“Based on this analysis, Brown might want to play up his opposition [to Prop. 23],” he said.

The Field Poll asked state voters about their viewpoints on four of the 10 ballot initiatives in November. The poll found a large majority of state voters favors Prop. 25, which changes the vote needed to pass the state budget from two-thirds to a majority. Voters favor Prop. 18, the $11.1 billion water bond measure, by a 42 to 32 percent margin, the poll found.

The poll was conducted June 22 to July 5 among 1,005 voters in California. The poll was carried out in six languages and dialects, including English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.