Marijuana TrendThe latest Public Policy Polling poll of Colorado, released on October 25, shows that Coloradans support Amendment 64 by a 10-point margin and that support is trending upward.

According to PPP:

Colorado’s amendment to legalize marijuana continues to lead for passage with 53% of voters saying they plan to support it to 43% who are opposed. This plays out very much as a generational issue with voters under 30 favoring it 73/25, while seniors oppose it 38/55. Every age group except seniors supports the amendment, and it has a 58/36 advantage with independents.

This is 4-point increase from PPP’s previous (September 4) poll, which showed 47% in favor and 43% opposed. This is also an increase from the October 11 Denver Post /Survey USA poll which showed 48% in favor of Amendment 64 and 43% opposed.

Amendment 64 seeks to legalize the possession, use, cultivation, and manufacture of small amounts of marijuana and goods containing marijuana. It will create the legal framework necessary to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The Amendment states that the first $40 million in annual tax revenue will be earmarked for public school construction. More information on the Amendment, as well as the full text and ballot language, can be found on the  Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol website.

While the numbers from the latest PPP survey may appear favorable to supporters of the Amendment, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol cautions supporters against becoming complacent. A similar measure in California, Proposition 19, led in polls until late September before the 2010 election, but was defeated 53.5% to 46.5% on election day.

Post-election analysis of Proposition 19 in California determined that the measure was probably defeated due to late-in-the-game opposition from prominent public figures in California. This is a concern for supporters of Amendment 64 in Colorado as well; Governor Hickenlooper and Denver’s Mayor Hancock, as well as several interest groups, oppose the Amendment.

On the other hand, Amendment 64 has advantages that California’s Proposition 19 did not. Many local law enforcement professionals and doctors, as well as the Colorado Democratic Party, have voiced their support for the measure.

Those in favor of Amendment 64 have a significant fundraising advantage. The Denver Post reports that over $3 million has been spent so far by groups on both sides of the issue. Groups that favor legalization are out-spending opposition groups by a 4-1 margin. However, spending by groups in favor of Proposition 19 in California was also significantly higher than spending by groups opposed, so a fundraising edge for Amendment 64 does not necessarily indicate that it will pass.

Finally, the October 25 PPP poll suggests that support for Amendment 64 is currently at its highest level yet and is trending upward. For comparison, polling for California’s Proposition 19 showed support peaking in late September 2010 and trending downward until the measure’s defeat on election day.


Update: The RCP average today (5/16) now shows Romney leading Obama by 1 point in Wisconsin. Rasmussen showed Romney up by 8, but PPP showed Obama up by 1, so it could be a little skewed. Go figure.

Political campaigns and the news media always make a fuss about the latest national polling numbers. Just look at today’s release by the Obama campaign complaining about the methodology of the latest CBS News/NYT poll.

But is it really such a big deal?

These polls generally indicate which presidential candidate has the support of more American voters; today’s Real Clear Politics average shows President Obama leading Governor Romney by 1.8 points.

Historically, national polls have proven to be a fairly accurate predictor of the popular vote. So, differences in methodology aside, Romney might stand a very good chance of beating Obama if the 2012 election were based solely on the popular vote.

Of course, our experience in the 2000 presidential election, where Al Gore won the popular vote by .6 percent but lost the election, shows us that the popular vote is not always the best indication of which candidate will win the election.

Indeed, the last RCP average prior to the 2008 election showed then-Senator Obama leading Senator McCain by 7.6 percent. Obama went on to win the popular vote by 7.2 percent, but he won the electoral college by 35.6 percent.

The most recent RCP Electoral College map shows that the President can reasonably rely on 243 electoral votes (of 270 needed to win), while Romney has 170 in his column. The remaining 125 are too close to call.

Obama is currently leading in the RCP averages in all of the too-close-to-call states except Arizona(11 votes) and Missouri(10). Based on RCP’s estimate, the President only needs 27 additional electoral votes to win the election. You do the math.

Granted, there is plenty of time for these results to change. But as things stand now, it appears that President Obama is in a much stronger position than the national polls suggest.