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Data Dive: Prop. 64 Poll Reveals Bikers Love Legalization (and Other Curious Trends)

October 7, 2016

Vegetarian in California? There’s a 2-to-1 chance you’re voting for cannabis legalization this election. Voting for Trump? There’s a 2-to-1 chance you’re against it.

Those numbers, the latest available, come from poll results released last week by SurveyUSA. The upshot? California’s vote on Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, could be a lot closer than you might think.

The poll, released Sept. 29, found that a slim majority—52 percent—of California adults support Prop. 64, while 41 percent oppose it. Six percent were undecided, and 1 percent said they won’t vote. Out of the four propositions the survey asked about, it was the only one that pollsters concluded was too close to predict (or, in their words, “Caution advised”).

13 Things You Might Not Know About California’s Prop. 64

We broke down the data to help keep track of what’s going on in the Golden State. In a rush? Here’s the TL;DR version:

Most Supportive

  • “Very liberal” voters — 77 percent support
  • Left-leaning independent voters — 75 percent
  • Vegetarians — 65 percent
  • Hillary Clinton voters — 63 percent
  • Union members — 62 percent
  • Voters with tattoos — 62 percent
  • Tobacco smokers — 62 percent
  • Adults 35-49 — 61 percent
  • Black voters — 59 percent
  • Motorcycle owners — 59 percent

Least Supportive

  • Donald Trump voters — 64 percent opposed
  • Conservatives — 59 percent
  • Registered Republicans — 61 percent
  • Voters 65 and older — 57 percent
  • Evangelical voters — 54 percent
  • Rural voters — 53 percent

Most Undecided

  • Vegetarians — 15 percent undecided
  • Left-leaning independent voters — 11 percent
  • Adults 18-34 — 10 percent
  • Asian voters — 10 percent
  • Bay Area residents — 10 percent
  • First-generation Americans — 9 percent
  • Independent voters — 9 percent
  • Moderate liberals — 9 percent
  • Voters making less than $40,000 annually — 9 percent
Think Cannabis is ‘Essentially Legal’ in California? Think Again

Who, Where, and Why?


Women in California are a bit wary of legalization. While more support it (49 percent) than oppose it (43 percent), women appear to be the largest group in California without majority support for Prop. 64. Among surveyed men, 55 percent favor Prop. 64.

Why the split? Past polls in California and elsewhere have suggested that women tend to be more concerned than men about certain issues, such as whether legalization would increase cannabis use among minors. (For what it’s worth, available evidence suggests that it doesn’t.)

Here’s Why Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Lead to Higher Teen Use Rates

Age Group

Adults 35-49 are most welcoming of Prop. 64, with 61 percent in favor. Younger voters, aged 18-34, seem less certain, with 56 in support and a sizeable 10 percent undecided. Older adults tend to oppose legalization: 52 percent of people over 50 say they’ll vote against the measure. That trend continues among seniors; 57 percent of adults over 65 are opposed.


Despite similar rates of cannabis consumption, people of color are disproportionately penalized for illegal cannabis crimes compared to whites. You’ve probably heard that before. Prop. 64 proponents say legalization would help undo that disparity. Of the four racial groups identified in the survey—white, black, Hispanic, and Asian—black voters were the most supportive of the initiative, at 59 percent support. White voters came in at 54 percent support, Hispanic voters at 52 percent, and Asian voters at 46 percent. (Asian voters were also the most likely to still be undecided on Prop. 64, with 10 percent of respondents saying they hadn’t yet taken a position on the measure.)

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From what we’ve seen in other states, legalization can make a big dent in arrests rates. In Oregon, arrests fell sharply across racial lines. But the benefits of legalization haven’t always been shared equitably. Black people are still overwhelmingly more likely to be arrested for the same behavior as whites, and white business owners have disproportionately benefitted from legal, regulated markets. Legalization might be a start, but it’s not a silver bullet.

Political Views

Broadly speaking, conservative voters tend to oppose legalization while voters who identify as liberal tend to support it. Fifty-nine percent of respondents who said they were “very” or “somewhat” conservative were against legalization. Among liberals, 63 people who said they were “somewhat” liberal said they’ll vote for Prop. 64—along with a whopping 77 percent of adults who are “very” liberal. Moderate voters were, well, moderate in their support, with 56 percent in favor.

Have a motorcycle? You’re more likely to support legalization.


New to California? You’re more likely to support legalization. Sixty-one percent of residents who’ve been living in California for less than 10 years said they’ll vote for Prop. 64. Among longtime residents, 52 percent support legalization.

Where you live matters, too. While 55 percent of urban adults and 53 percent of suburban residents support Prop. 64, only 44 percent of rural residents do. Most in Greater Los Angeles (57 percent) and the San Francisco Bay Area (52 percent) are in favor of the measure, but residents outside coastal cities are less certain. The Inland Empire was narrowly in support (49 percent in favor, 44 percent opposed), and Central Valley voters were split evenly.


  • Nearly two-thirds of vegetarians in California (65 percent) plan on voting for Prop. 64. But 15 percent say they’re still undecided, the most of any group.
  • Have a motorcycle? You’re more likely to support legalization. Bikers are 59 percent in favor of the measure, while 52 percent of people who don’t own a motorcycle say they’ll vote yes.
  • Religion matters, but only sometimes. Just 41 percent of self-described evangelicals support legalization, compared to 58 percent of non-evangelicals. Being Catholic doesn’t seem to matter much, though; 57 percent of Catholics support Prop. 64, and 56 percent of non-Catholics do.
  • Military households feel about the same as their non-military counterparts. Both groups had 53 percent support for legalization. Military families, however, were slightly more likely to oppose legalization (44 percent to 40 percent).
  • Most people (58 percent) with a high-school diploma or equivalent support legalization. So do people with four-year college degrees (53 percent). But those who’ve completed only some college aren’t so sure; only 50 percent plan to vote yes.

How are you planning to vote on Prop. 64? Do these results describe you, or do you buck the demographic trends? Let us know in the comments. Need more information? Read about what you might not know is in the initiative.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image
Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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