As we enter the final stretch for elections, news had been quite somber for the passage of medical marijuana. After a year of strong initial polling that indicated Amendment 2 would be pushed through by voters, recent weeks have shown that the initiative was in danger of falling short and failing to pass.
One pollster even said medical marijuana in Florida "is done."
But a new poll conducted in the past week by public opinion research firm Anzalone Liszt Grove -- called one of the most reliable pollsters by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver -- shows that Amendment 2 is still very much alive and, according to this data, will pass come November 4.
Following the grim news from two polls in the past couple of weeks, United for Care commissioned Anzalone Liszt Grove, based out of Washington, D.C., to conduct a poll on Amendment 2.
The firm conducted the survey using cell phones and landlines between October 22 and 27 and found that 62 percent of "likely voters" will approve the initiative, with a 3.4 percent margin of error.
Amendment 2 needs 60 percent to pass.
Just a week ago, a poll conducted by the Tampa Bay Times said that Amendment 2 will fall short.
This is a huge shift from July, when a Quinnipiac poll showed that nearly 90 percent of voters polled said they back the legalization of medical marijuana.
Following a Gravis Marketing poll that showed Amendment 2 was garnering only 50 percent, United for Care released a statement on the Anzalone Liszt Grove.
"We're at 61 percent," United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara wrote in an email Tuesday.
Another United for Care staffer told New Times that the Gravis poll was "not known for its reliability."
What the Anzalone Liszt Grove survey did was focus on the actual language on the ballot, and not a summary of it, which is what most other pollsters usually do.
According to the survey, 62 percent of likely voters say they have either already voted Yes or will vote Yes for Amendment 2, with 35 percent opposed and 3 percent still undecided.
The previous weeks' news of Amendment 2 falling short was being attributed to anti-medical marijuana group No on 2, which has spent millions of dollars to air ads attacking the amendment. But Anzalone Liszt Grove says that, while No on 2's money has made things competitive, Amendment 2 is still very much in this thing.
"Despite the influx of millions of dollars in advertising spent against Amendment 2, medical marijuana is in a close, competitive position heading toward Election Day," writes Anzalone Liszt Grove founder John Anzalone. "While the opposition's tactics have moved the needle, this amendment remains in a competitive position."
Pollara says the new poll shows an "upswing" for the initiative.
"This poll demonstrates a continued upward swing," Pollara said in a statement. "[It's] attributable to recent endorsements by major papers across the state as well as a substantial increase in our outreach to voters."
Still, even with a reliable poll showing 62 percent, that number still indicates that this race is too close to call. Anzalone says turnout is what will truly count in the end.
"Florida doctors may soon prescribe medical marijuana for those suffering from debilitating diseases. But turnout is important," he writes. "If the Yes on 2 campaign continues turning out strong supporters to the polls, then medical marijuana can pass statewide."
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