A push to legalize weed in Oregon is heading for success, though by a slim margin, according to a new poll.
The survey, taken for Oregon Public Broadcasting between Oct. 8 and Oct. 11, found a small majority of likely voters plan to support legalization on Election Day. Fifty-two percent of voters said they favor the ballot initiative, while 41 percent said they oppose it. The remaining 7 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
More importantly, the poll found that a full 46 percent of voters are “certain” to back legalization Nov. 4. Just 36 percent said they’re certain to vote against it. A comparable number of voters – 6 percent of supporters and 5 percent of opponents – said they might change their minds.
Assuming an equal number of voters change their minds on either side of the issue, and assuming undecided voters break evenly for both sides, this means legalization is likely to pass.
But things could still go either way. John Horvick, a pollster, said turnout will decide the outcome of recreational pot in Oregon.
“For example, 18 to 34 year-olds, 70 percent plan to vote for Measure 91 for legalization,” Horvick said. “Sixty-eight percent of independents plan to. Now those are all groups who are the least likely to show-up come Election Day. So if the marijuana campaign is able to get those voters out, it looks like it could pass, it’ll be close, a squeaker.”
Oregon has tried this before. A previous legalization measure failed at the ballot box in 2012, the same year Colorado and Washington State successfully adopted legal weed. That contest was also close; the initiative failed by just four percentage points.
Supporters of reform are optimistic. They’ve been fighting tooth-and-nail against an aggressive group of well-funded opponents who have launched a campaign to scare voters away from legalization.
The organizers of that campaign initially planned to use federal grant money to fund their anti-legalization message, even though that could have been a violation of federal campaign laws. But the group backed off after pro-pot activists complained.
Debra Klaviter, an insurance agent in The Dalles, Ore., said she plans to vote for legalization because she thinks it will make it easier for people to use cannabis to treat their pain.
“I’ve seen people that have started to take care of their own health care, their own pain management, and how the system works for them,” Klaviter said. “Oh my gracious, there’s no question that it should be legalized.”