California voters have turned against controversial initiatives to legalize marijuana and to suspend the state's global warming law, a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found.
Voters now oppose Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure, 49% to 44%, and the measure to halt a law that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, 48% to 37%.
The poll indicated that opposition has surged since September, when 52% of likely voters backed Proposition 19, which would allow Californians to grow and possess pot, and they split evenly over Proposition 23.
The earlier poll's Proposition 19 result had encouraged supporters and attracted some high-dollar donations. The measure would allow Californians who are 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, while cities and counties could authorize commercial cultivation, sales and taxation.
The latest poll found support had eroded significantly across all demographic groups, but most steeply among Latino voters. In September, 63% backed it. Now, 51% oppose it.
Mark Baldassare, the organization's pollster, said the drop may have come because of a barely visible campaign. He noted that the proponents have to persuade voters that people like them support the initiative. "The burden of proof is always on the yes side," he said.
He also said that opponents seemed more passionate about the issue. Among likely voters who said the legalization issue was very important to them, 33% planned to vote for it and 63% against it.
Baldassare also said the poll found no indication that young people were more enthused about marijuana legalization than older voters. Democrats have started to talk about using the issue as a way to motivate young voters in 2012.
Much of the reversal appears to be driven by evaporating support in Southern California. In September, 56% of likely voters in Los Angeles County and 52% in other Southern California counties supported the measure. This month, those percentages slipped to 41% and 42%.
"As expected, California voters are taking a closer look at Prop. 19 and are just saying 'No,' " said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the opposition. "While the measure claims to regulate, control and tax marijuana, voters don't need eyedrops to clearly see it does none of those things."