by Phillip Smith
Washington state voters are evenly divided on the question of marijuana legalization, according to a poll released Monday. The Strategies 360 Washington Voter Survey found that of likely voters surveyed, 46% supported pot legalization and 46% opposed it.
The poll comes as advocates organized as New Approach Washington are in the midst of a signature-gathering campaign to place a legalization initiative, I-502, on the November 2012 general election ballot.
These early poll results could be a blow to that effort. The conventional wisdom among initiative campaign veterans is that the measure should be polling at 60% or more if it is to have a chance to win on election day. Initiative campaigns that don't poll well find it more difficult to attract funders.
In the poll, marijuana legalization had its highest level of support among 2008 Obama voters (60%), Democrats or leaning Democratic (59%), independents (56%), King County and North Puget Sound residents (54%), and non-whites (51%).
The strongest opposition to legalization came from Republican and Republican leaning voters and 2008 McCain supporters (69%), Eastern Washington residents (59%), women (54%), and Western Washington residents (excluding King County and North Puget Sound) (52%).
The poll was conducted via telephone on September 11 through 14. It surveyed 500 Washington state residents who indicated they were likely to vote in the November 2012 election and included 400 who indicated they were likely to vote in the November 2011 election. The margin of error was +/- 4.4% for the 500-person sample and greater for subsamples.