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Montana legalization measures show 10-point lead in latest poll

October 15, 2020

A new Montana State University poll finds the state’s two marijuana legalization measures enjoying a 10-point margin heading into the final two weeks of the campaign.

In questions regarding the two marijuana legalization initiatives (CI-118 and I-190), 49% of respondents said they would vote to support the initiatives, and 39% said they would oppose.

Gotta vote for both to legalize

Going into the final two weeks of the campaign, Montana’s twin legalization measures maintain a solid lead. (Data: Montana State University poll / Leafly illustration)

If those numbers hold true through election day, Nov. 3, Montana could join the growing number of legal states in the American West. Only 10% of Montanans surveyed said they remained undecided on the issue. All of those undecideds would have to break against the measures for the race to draw even.

Historically accurate poll

Montana State University’s Treasure State poll is one of the most extensive publicly available polls on the state’s voter preferences. It’s administered by members of the MSU Department of Political Science, and was conducted between Sept. 14 and Oct. 2.

In all, 1,787 Montanans responded to the mail-in poll that consisted of about 80 questions.

There are two initiatives that deal with marijuana legalization on the ballot (CI-118 and I-190), so the poll asked the following question: “The state ballot will ask about legalizing recreational marijuana in Montana. Will you vote to support or oppose legalization?”

Of all the ballot-related questions in the poll, the response to this question was the only one outside the poll’s 3.9% margin of error. 70% of Democrats said yes to legalization compared to 27% of Republicans. However, 13% of voters in each party were undecided or did not intend to vote on the issue.

Legalization measures could draw young voters

A majority of voters from ages 18 to 59 favor the measures, with a majority of voters age 60 and above saying they will vote no to legalization.

David Parker, Montana State University political science professor, said the marijuana initiatives could draw young voters to the election, which would help Democrats all the way down the ballot.

“I think it is important to think about a ballot as a complete organic entity,” Parker said. “Young voters strongly are in favor of the measure, and they tend to be Democratic leaning.”

Legalization’s effect on voter turnout

Parker’s comments are especially interesting in light of President Trump’s recent observations about legalization on the ballot—and why he thinks it works against him and his supporters.

Many Republican voters, and even hardcore Trump supporters, actually support legalization. Republicans enjoy cannabis just like Democrats, and legalization aligns with the libertarian sentiments of many conservatives. But legalization measures tend to draw younger voters to the polls and, as Parker says, younger voters right now tend to lean Democratic.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image
Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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