Poll pegs marijuana, abortion initiatives short of passing, but many voters still undecided

by | Apr 20, 2024

A poll released this week indicates that Florida’s ballot initiatives to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s Constitution and legalize recreational marijuana are both below the needed 60 percent supermajority for approval, though significant portions of the electorate remain undecided.

A Florida Atlantic University (FAU) poll released on Thursday indicates that two major Florida ballot initiatives—one to protect abortion rights and another to legalize recreational marijuana—are currently short of the required majority for passage, though a large segment of voters are still undecided.

The poll shows that Amendment 4, which would guarantee the right to abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, is supported by 49 percent of voters. Nineteen percent are opposed, while 32 percent remain undecided. The amendment requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

“The results point to a 11 percent gain that needs to happen between now and Nov. 5 for the ballot initiative to pass,” said Luzmarina Garcia, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science at FAU. “Since almost one-third of respondents do not know how they would vote if faced with the ballot initiative, this means that it could go either way come November.”

Demographic analysis of the poll data reveals that Black voters and White college-educated voters are more likely to support Amendment 4, with approval rates of 66 percent and 55 percent respectively. Women showed similar support to the overall rate but were less likely to oppose the amendment and more likely to be undecided.

Amendment 3, which seeks to legalize marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, also falls below the 60 percent threshold, with 47 percent support and 35 percent opposition. Eighteen percent of voters have not yet decided how they will vote on the issue.

Support is strongest among younger voters, particularly those aged 35-49, where it reaches 68 percent, in contrast to just 36 percent support among those aged 65 and over.

Partisan differences emerged, with 58 percent of Democrats supporting the marijuana legalization initiative, compared to 39 percent of Republicans. Racial and ethnic differences are also present, with Black voters showing greater support at 55 percent, compared to 30 percent of Hispanic voters and approximately 50 percent of White voters.

This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced opposition to the abortion ballot initiative, contending that the measure would override current state laws that require parental consent for minors seeking abortions. He also expressed objection to the marijuana initiative over alleged challenges in regulating use in public spaces should voters approve it.

“That [abortion] amendment is written very deceptively to try and trick as many people to vote for it as possible,” DeSantis said. “The amendment overturns Florida’s parental consent for minors law. So as a parent, you have parental consent for anything under the sun, expect they’re going to take abortion and put it in the [Florida] Constitution to cut parents out. That is unacceptable.”

The Florida Supreme Court ruled this month that the ballot language for the abortion amendment is clear enough for voters, dismissing a challenge solicited by the State and allowing the amendment to proceed.

“We conclude that the proposed amendment complies with the single-subject requirement of the Florida Constitution and that the ballot title and summary comply with Florida Statutes,” the opinion read. “There is no basis for concluding that the proposed amendment is facially invalid under the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot.”


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