New Jersey and Arizona legalization measures leading in latest polls

Published on October 14, 2020

Two of the highest-profile legalization measures on the Nov. 3 ballot look to maintain strong leads with less than three weeks until election day. Recent polls show both initiatives leading in their respective states.

New Jersey’s adult-use marijuana measure, Question 1, enjoys a 61% approval rating among state voters, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released on Oct. 9.

A strong majority of New Jersey voters are expected to legalize the adult-use of cannabis on the Nov. 3 ballot. (Data from Fairleigh Dickinson U. poll, Oct. 9 / Leafly illustration)

Strong favorables in New Jersey

In the latest New Jersey poll, 61% of likely voters intend to vote yes (or have voted yes among those who have already cast their ballot), with 29% who will vote or have voted no.

The biggest supporters of marijuana legalization include Democrats (71%), men (66%), and 18-34 year-olds (77%). It is notable that across a variety of demographic groups, the majority sentiment favors the proposed amendment’s passage.

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“Public opinion on this issue has evolved considerably,” said Krista Jenkins, poll director and professor of politics and government at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

“Just a few years ago, in 2018, we asked about recreational marijuana legalization and found support that was well beneath a majority, let alone anything that approached the support we’re seeing today. Back then, 42 percent support what is being proposed today. The legislative maneuver to give voters the say looks like it will wind up with a decisive pro-pot outcome.”

Arizona: A tighter race

In Arizona, meanwhile, the passage of Prop. 207 looks likely but it’s by no means a stone-cold lock.

A Suffolk University/USA Today poll taken during the last week of September found 46% of voters approving of the statewide adult-use legalization measure, while 34% disapprove.

More Arizona voters are for legalization than against—but there’s a big pool of undecideds out there. The final result will depend on which way they swing. (Data: Suffolk U./USA Today poll Sept. 30. Leafly illustration)

Undecided voters hold sway

The big unknown in Arizona: How that big 20% pool of undecided voters will swing.

With legalization measures, undecided voters often veer toward voting no, as that can be seen as the more conservative choice. (Conservative in the sense that voting no maintains the status quo, while voting yes initiates a change in state law.)

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If undecided voters were to break 75% against legalization and 25% for legalization, that would narrow the final vote to 51% for, 49% against.

The Arizona Republic broke down the poll results into partisan terms:

“Democrats support Proposition 207, with 59% of poll respondents saying they will vote for it and 20% opposed, with the remaining 21% undecided. Republicans only give the measure 30% support, with 50% saying they will oppose it and the remainder undecided.”

Separately, a poll of 800 likely Arizona voters conducted by the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign in late September showed a wider margin of support, with 50% approving of Prop. 207, and 34% opposed.

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Bruce Barcott
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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