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How Reliable is Polling Data on the Pot Legalization Amendment?

The Equinest
Creative Commons

The latest from the Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling firm shows strong support for Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. Out of 904 likely voters surveyed, 53 percent said they’d support the plan while 43 percent said they were opposed to it.

While that may seem like good news for proponents of Amendment 64, Colorado State University associate professor of political science Kyle Saunders said polls on some social issues like marijuana legalization have to be taken with a grain of salt.

In 2010, early California polls showed marijuana legalization proponents with the edge before the election—but that measure ultimately failed.

“More than likely I think there’s a bias for the status quo—especially on social issues,” said Saunders. “That’s what you saw in California in 2010 with their measure. That could happen here as well.”

KUNC reported in-depth last August about some of the difficulties when it comes to interpreting polling data on marijuana legalization. Back then, Saunders explained there are so-called “easy issues” like abortion and “hard issues” like pot legalization where opinions are more malleable.

Another Amendment 64 poll this month also shows support among voters for the measure, although the margin is smaller. The Denver Post poll shows supporters edging out opponents by 5 percentage points with 9 percent of those polled undecided.

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