A new poll indicates that unless younger and more liberal Arizona voters come out in droves in November, things aren't looking very good for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol's ballot initiative.
In a recent survey conducted by MBQF Consulting and OH Predictive Insights, 1,060 likely voters across the state answered the following question:
"This November Arizona voters will have the chance to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. If the election were held today, how would you vote on this issue?"
Of the respondents, 52.5 percent said they'd vote against legalizing recreational marijuana, while 39.1 percent said they'd vote in favor. The undecided figure was 8.4 percent.
It appears that men are more inclined than women to back legalization. The poll found that 49.2 percent of men oppose the measure, while 55.5 percent of women said they'd vote no.
Party lines are even more starkly drawn: Only 28.3 percent of Republicans favor legalization, whereas 47.7 percent of Democrats say they'll vote for it. (Among Independents, 41 percent said yes; those identifying as "Other" mustered a figure of 50 percent in favor.)
Perhaps predictably, the poll found a bit more support for the ballot initiative in Pima County than in the traditionally more conservative parts of the state like Maricopa County and the more rural areas.
But overall, pollsters found, Arizonans apparently don't seem too enthusiastic about the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana.
The CRMLA ballot initiative, which is sponsored by the Marijuana Project Policy, would allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six plants at their home without a permit.
"I'm not surprised — not surprised at all — because here in Arizona, Republican voters are the majority," lead pollster Mike Noble of MBQF Consulting, says of the results. "I think the electorate is just fundamentally nervous about legalization, especially women."
That said, he adds, a high voter turnout and lots of money poured into the fight could shift the outcome considerably.
"They have lots of money, and if they're able to get out younger people, it may make a difference. But as a snapshot right now, the people of Arizona are not high on it," Noble says.
(Let the record reflect that 100 percent of Mike Noble chuckled softly at his own pun.)
Noble believes the effort to pass the measure has so far struggled to pull together a strong messaging campaign — a fact surely not helped by the coordinated and vocal anti-legalization camp led by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, radio host Seth Leibsohn, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. (Earlier this week, that contingent filed a lawsuit challenging the ballot measure and accusing its proponents of deceiving voters.)
Of the pro-pot people, Noble says, "Well, they are definitely facing an uphill battle."
Asked how the current presidential political landscape might affect the marijuana vote, Noble says it's hard to say. "A lot of what happens down-ticket is based on what happens up-ticket," he explains. "And right now, I think it's a dead heat [between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump]. They're really neck and neck right now."
He says he has seen a few recent polls in which the victor is still within the margin of error — indicating that the race will be close in November.
Nate Silver, whose widely watched website fivethirtyeight.com is tracking the presidential race, gives Trump a 57.4 percent chance of victory in Arizona. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona was Bill Clinton in 1996.
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Noble knows that a lot of people supporting the CRMLA ballot measure will be upset by his poll. "If I go missing in the next two weeks, I'm pretty sure it's the pro side that's taking me out," he jokes. But he emphasizes that unless the young and so-called unlikely voters flood the polls in November, the initiative is doomed.
"That's how they got [legalized marijuana] passed in Colorado," he says. "They had a lot of young, unlikely voters come out."
**Update 7/14/16: CRMLA spokesman Barrett Marson tells New Times in an e-mail, "These numbers fly in the face of every other poll released to date. This poll's reliability must be called into question. The campaign turned in more than 250,000 signatures. Momentum is clearly there to end prohibition in Arizona."
Here is a graphic breakdown of the poll: