Via Mark Kleiman, here's an interesting poll result for Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize marijuana cultivation and sale in California. It comes from the pro-19 forces, and I don't have any independent way of knowing how reliable it is, but it shows that standard polling has Prop 19 losing 46%-41%, while automated polling shows it winning 56%-41%.
Take this for what it's worth. I'm basically skeptical that Prop 19 will pass, and I have my doubts that there's really such a large number of people who are afraid to express support for Prop 19 to a live interviewer. Supporting pot legalization isn't really a huge stigma in California, after all. Still, it's interesting if it's legit. We'll find out a week from Tuesday.
People lie to pollsters? Really? And from the Kleiman post ...
One of the yes-on-19 groups did a split-sample poll, with some respondents answering a live interviewer and others punching keypad buttons. The results (assuming the poll is being reported accurately) suggests that live polling may be noticeably under-estimating support for the proposition: the fact that the demographics of the two subsamples match closely makes me a tentative believer. With virtually every politician and newspaper in the state denouncing Prop. 19, it wouldn’t be surprising if some people were reluctant to express their disagreement (and risk being thought of as potheads).
Moreover, support for Prop. 19 declines sharply with age; the under-30s are overwhelmingly for it. They’re also much more likely than their elders to have cell phones only and therefore be missed by most polling, which calls only land-lines.
So this could still go either way. The InTrade market, which showed the proposition favored as recently as a week ago, now gives it one chance in three of passing. At those odds, I’m not taking either end of the bet. It may come down to whether the “amotivational syndrome” some drug-prevention folks have tried to attribute to cannabis applies to voting.
I think this observation in the polling is quite hilarious. I have no idea whether the referendum passes or fails, but it's certainly drawing a certain bloc of voters to the polls in California who don't seem likely to vote Republican.