The latest survey of likely voters from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that marijuana legalization could be cruising toward a November victory.

Sixty percent of respondents are saying they'll vote yes on Proposition 64, which would legalize pot for those 21 and older. Only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of these likely voters are just saying no. Some of the lowest rates of support came from Republicans, 52 percent of whom said they'd vote no, and Latinos, 54 percent of whom said they'd vote yes.

Among California's largest regions, Los Angeles has the distinction of expressing relatively low support for the measure, according to the PPIC. In L.A., 57 percent of likely voters said they're backing 64. But in Orange County and San Diego, our traditionally conservative neighbors, that figure is 60 percent; in the liberal Bay Area, it's 65 percent. Only the Inland Empire, with 55 percent in favor of the initiative, is showing lower support for legalization, the data shows.

Los Angeles is a longtime Democratic and labor union stronghold. Sixty-five percent of Democratic likely voters are in favor of weed. So why is this happening? Blame Latinos. Nearly half the L.A. population is Latino, and the culture tends to lean conservative on social issues like drug use. Note the relatively lukewarm support (54 percent) among Latinos statewide, above.

“That's probably the full reason,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC. “The numbers in L.A. track with Latinos pretty closely.”

On the other hand, Baldassare is impressed with how well 64 is doing in the once–solidly Republican counties of Orange and San Diego, and he says that could be a sign that California is ready to pass legalization after a near miss in 2010. “That you can get 60 percent in Orange and San Diego counties points to the fact you're not getting a lot of resistance among Republicans,”  he said.

Even Golden State oldsters (hi, Mom!), more traditionally allied with anti-legalization forces, are saying yes to the measure, the PPIC found. Likely voters 55 and older support Proposition 64 at a rate of 54 percent. “When you get into the 55-and-older group, you have a solid majority,” Baldassare said. “This support in the older group and among Republicans was noteworthy.”

There is a libertarian, anti-government strain of support for marijuana that also could be influencing the data in Orange and San Diego counties, the latter of which is a huge military town, he acknowledged. Orange County Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has long been in favor of medical marijuana for veterans, for example.

Though this is the first time PPIC has asked likely voters specifically about Proposition 64, past statewide surveys of likely voters have shown similar support for the general concept of recreational legalization. And that could mean that this measure is on its way to victory.

Baldassare said it's too soon for the Yes on Proposition 64 campaign to start putting champagne on ice. But he said this shows that the No side has an uphill battle for the next six weeks if it is to have any chance at victory.

“The No side would have a considerable amount of work to do,” he said. 

PPIC surveyed 1,055 likely California voters. The margin of error is said to be plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Credit: PPIC

Credit: PPIC

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly