More polling

All over the media this morning is the screaming headline from the Los Angeles Times:

Most California voters don’t support legalizing pot, poll finds

The subtext is, if California doesn’t support legalization…

Of course, it’s the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Times poll, and the Los Angeles Times has never been pot friendly at all. The actual numbers are 50% opposed, 46% in favor with a error margin of +-3.5%. So yes, the headline is hyperbole.

The actual question was a simple one tossed in with a whole bunch of other questions about a broad range of political topics.

For example, one question asked was:

Some people have proposed that the state legalize online poker and collect a cut of the proceeds from gambling websites. The 200 million dollars or more each year that some legislators say would come from these new fees could help pay for education, public safety and other government services. From what you know, do you favor or oppose this proposal?

However, for marijuana, the question was:

Do you think marijuana should be legalized for general or recreational use by adults?

No indication of tax revenue. No mention of regulation, etc. It’s not that the question is a bad one per se, but rather that the topic of marijuana legalization in particular is such a minefield with decades of intense propaganda, that unless you really define your terms specifically, lots of people really aren’t sure to what they are saying “yes.”

Compare it to the Rasmussen question recently that showed 56% of Americans supporting legalization:

Suppose that marijuana was legalized and regulated so that it was illegal for people under 18 to buy, that those who drove while under the influence of marijuana received strict penalties, and that smoking marijuana was banned in public places like restaurants. With such regulations in place, would you favor or oppose legalizing and regulating marijuana?

How you ask the question, and in what context within the overall survey, makes a big difference.

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14 Responses to More polling

  1. claygooding says:

    Same game,,different day,,this is just one of the ONDCP’s political maneuvers as he must by law counter any attempt to legalize marijuana. Favorable polls will be responded too with such as the LA Times poll,casting doubts on the favorable poll enough too claim that the original poll is faulty.

  2. Cold Blooded says:

    “Nearly half of Californians support legalizing marijuana” would be just as acurate

  3. Duncan20903 says:


    The LA LA Times is doing its best to keep the momentum spinning:

    Less than 38% of Californians admit recreational pot use

    They should be more careful. 38% is lower than the nationwide “lifetime use” rate. I thought that the enemies of freedom believed that use would “skyrocket” if penalties are less than draconian.

    • Jake says:

      According to wiki there are 37.7m people in California – 38% means that 14.3 MILLION people have used Cannabis. And that’s only those who have ‘admitted’ it to a poll. Seems like a great idea to criminalise 14m people in one state alone.. How many other policies are flouted as much as this… How many other policies have a 62% ‘success’ rate and aren’t wiped from the books.. It’s insanity..

  4. Outlier says:

    You bring up a good point Pete. Ironically the numbers track exactly with what Prop 19 got in 2010 (46.5%), so worst case scenario there has been no or minimal movement in California. The LA Times also did a poll of Prop 19 in October right before the election and had it polling at 39% in favor, the lowest number of any polling outlet for the entire election cycle. Whether this a reflection of their question wording or otherwise, I couldn’t say but it’s a noteworthy track record. Bottom line no one should freak out over one poll and California is going to continue one of the frontlines of the movement.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      But 53.5% voted against Prop 19. We may not have gained any yes votes but it appears they’ve lost some of their support. On the other hand, with a 3.5% margin of error the poll is a statistical dead heat.

      Will somebody please name another law that has approaching 50% support for repeal?

    • Benjamin C. says:

      California will definitely keep moving forward, but I wonder how all the “no on Prop 19” folks are feeling about this. Specifically, the ones who were convinced by growers and dispensary owners that the best thing to do was vote “no” and wait two years for a better deal. Now Richard Lee is out of commission, and nobody else wants to throw down big money until we’re pulling 60% in favor of yes. At this rate we’ll be lucky if we get something on the ballot in 2016.

  5. Ed Dunkle says:

    Your liberal media at work. The Times has always been reactionary tools. They didn’t report any police beatings until the Herald Examiner started to write daily stories of police brutality back in the 1980’s and that final, kinda got the Times off their asses.

  6. N.T. Greene says:

    It is kind of funny to think that the -worst- version of the question we want asked actually comes pretty close to breaking the threshold.

    Oh, oh man, if only we could somehow ask people the legitimate question. But, uhh, does that mean that a high percentage of Californians support legalization with no limits, age requirements, etc… or does that just mean a high percentage of Californians think that legalization would come without any of those things?

    Can we get those good pollsters to get in there and ask the proper freaking question please?

  7. N.T. Greene says:

    I liked what they did there. It is a little old at this point, but the data is still pretty accurate, and the support for the medical bill in this state is pretty over the top.

  8. Matthew Meyer says:

    Nice, Pete. Very nice.

  9. B.Snow says:

    Pat Wray, 65, a registered Republican in Temecula, said she believes that the terminally ill should have access to marijuana.

    “My goodness gracious, who wouldn’t want them to have something to ease the pain?” she said.

    She noted that she grew up in the 1960s and doesn’t demonize pot smokers. “Look, I drink my glass of wine and occasionally have a margarita.” But she said she feared marijuana did lead to harder drugs, and was wary about legalizing it.

    “You just don’t want to open Pandora’s Box.”

    And you certainly MUST NOT play with it either because that’s just as naughty – maybe more.

    And it’s a known gateway to premarital sex, teen pregnancy, all sorts of nasty V.D. (be it HIV = which we all know was a result of God’s smiting ‘the gays’ in the early 80’s, the more somewhat more innocuous Chlamydia, HPV, Syphilis, Herpes {the “gift”/punishment that keeps on “giving”/punishing}, OR just some good, old-fashioned Clap!), and once you’re fiddling with Pandora’s Box – WELL? Its just a ‘hop, skip & a jump’ from an epidemic of Psychotic, Rampant, Promiscuity = that could truly bring on the *End of Days*, in our life time=?
    Do you want that be responsible for that??

    No, well then you better stay outta that poor young woman – what was her name – Oh yes, ‘Pandora’ pants!

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