DENVER – A majority of Coloradans support legal marijuana and same-sex marriage and would like to see Republicans in charge of the state legislature, according to the results of a survey released this week by liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP).
When voters were asked whether marijuana usage should be legal or illegal, 53 percent of those polled said it should be legal compared to just 38 percent who said it should be illegal. Another 9 percent said they were unsure.
The poll results confirm that public support for the voter-approved initiative to decriminalize marijuana remains strong, said Joe Megyesy, who served as the conservative outreach director for the successful Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.
“It is welcome news, but no surprise, that people in Colorado still overwhelmingly favor legalizing marijuana,” said Megyesy. “The results of this poll should finally put to rest the falsehood pushed by prohibitionists that Coloradans ‘didn’t know what they bargained for’ when they approved the legalization of marijuana last year by passing Amendment 64.”
Civil libertarianism also prevailed on the question of same-sex marriage, with 53 percent of respondents saying such marriages should be legal compared to 39 percent who said they should not. Another 9 percent said they were not sure.
Support for same-sex marriage declined from a majority to a plurality when respondents were given the added choice of civil unions, however.
When respondents were asked “Which of the following best describes your opinion on gay marriage: gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, or gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry, or there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship?” a plurality – 48 percent – chose same-sex marriage compared to 32 percent who said gay couples should be allowed to enter into civil unions. Just 18 percent said there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
The survey will likely add to the growing momentum enjoyed by gay rights campaigners, who succeeded in pushing legislators to approve a bill legalizing same-sex unions earlier this year.
“Colorado voters have always had a strong independent streak that favors personal freedom and individual liberty. They don’t want the government running their lives. And that sentiment is growing, especially among young voters,” said Mario Nicolais, a Republican candidate for a Jefferson County state Senate seat. “Candidates who ignore those trends and keep trotting out the same old, tired party lines are simply out-of-step with the people.”
“In 2014, Coloradans will be looking for something new and someone who better represents their values,” Nicolais added.
The long term goal of many marriage equality advocates is to repeal Colorado’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage exclusively as a union between one man and one woman. The measure was approved in 2006.
On the question of which party voters back for the state legislature, 47 percent of those polled said that if the election were held today, they would vote for the Republican candidate for the legislature, compared to 42 percent who said they would vote for the Democrat candidate.
The survey also asked Colorado voters to choose between rumored 2016 Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and a list of potential Republican challengers that included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).
Respondents chose Christie over Clinton by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin and Paul over Clinton by a spread of 47 percent to 45 percent.
By comparison, those polled gave Clinton a narrow edge over both Bush (47 percent to 43 percent) and Cruz (48 percent to 45 percent).
The PPP automated telephone poll “surveyed 928 Colorado voters, including 355 usual Republican primary voters, from December 3rd to 4th. The margin of error for the overall survey is +/- 3.2% and +/-5.2% for the GOP sample,” according to a PPP press release.