Texas Democrats support loosening marijuana rules but differ on how to do so, poll shows

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Compassionate Cultivation medical marijuana dispensary in Manchaca, Texas (KXAN Photo_Chris Nelson)_632124

Austin (KXAN) — The results of a new poll of likely Texas Democratic primary voters show wide support for loosening Texas’ rules around marijuana while also demonstrating a gap in views about which policies would best accomplish that.

According to a Nexstar Media Texas TV Stations/Emerson College poll over the weekend, of those Texans surveyed, only 10.1% believe possession and use of marijuana should be illegal. Of the respondents to the poll, 29.7% said marijuana should be decriminalized, 21.5% said marijuana should be legal for medical purposes only, and 38.7% said they support full legalization of sales and use of marijuana.

These results offer insight into Texas Democratic primary after early voting in Texas ended Friday evening and before Super Tuesday when Texas will carry out its primary elections.

The respondents in this poll are 450 Texans across the state who were surveyed between Saturday and Sunday. Emerson College said the margin of error is plus or minus 4.6%. The poll surveyed Texans about presidential and senatorial candidates as well as other public policy issues. Of those surveyed, 73.9% identified as Democrats, 3.3% identified as Republicans, and 22.8% identified as Independent/other.

Data from Emerson College of Texans surveyed in the Nexstar/ Emerson College poll regarding attitudes toward marijuana policy. Emerson College data.

Spencer Kimball, an Assistant Professor at Emerson College who helped carry out this poll, noted that a plurality of Texas Democratic primary voters would like to see marijuana legalized and that only one in 10 of the people polled believed marijuana should stay illegal.

Of course, Kimball said, it would take more than just Democrat support to make those policy changes happen, “so it would be interesting to see what [Texas] Republicans would think.”

He explained that the results of this poll showed a significant difference based on the age of the respondents.

“With marijuana legalization, even within the Democratic primary, there’s a clear split between those under the age of 50 and those over the age of 50,” Kimball said. “As far as legalization goes, you have a majority under the age of 50 that wants to see it legalized. We get to the voters over the age of 50 and that number basically is cut in half.”

He anticipates that these nuances in the marijuana policies voters support may impact which presidential candidate they throw their support behind.

Kimball also explained that his team made the choice to not have this question simply be about whether people felt marijuana should be legal or illegal.

“I think giving them the different options and different policies gives us a little bit more that we can think about as far as what the legislation would look like,” he said.

About this poll

Emerson College carried out this poll among primary voters all over the state of Texas, taking the 36 congressional districts in the state and dividing them up into five regions. This poll was carried out both over the phone and online.

A chart showing the geographic regions in Texas surveyed as part of the Nexstar Texas/ Emerson College poll. (Image Courtesy Nexstar/ Emerson College data set).

Because these results have a margin of error of +/- 4.6%, Kimball notes, “keep in mind that there’s a margin of error and that come election night, those scores are going to fluctuate somewhere around that 4.6% for each candidate.”

Of those surveyed, 56.2% identified as women and 43.8% identified as men. Those surveyed all seem to be likely participants in the primary election, with 74.7% saying they are “very likely” to vote in the Democratic Primary and 25.3% saying they voted early or absentee.

Forty-three-point-two percent of the people surveyed identify as White or Caucasian, 30.6% identify as Hispanic or Latino, 19.2% identify as African American, 3% identify as Asian and 3.9% identify as “other.” When it comes to the ages of the respondents, 20.2% were between the ages of 18 and 29, 31.8% were between 30 and 49, 28.6% were between 50 and 64 and 19.4% were 65 years old or older.

Of those surveyed 13% said the highest level of education they achieved was high school or less and 45.4% of those surveyed said their annual household income is less than $50,000 per year.

In addition to their views on the Democratic presidential primary race, respondents were also asked about the presidential race, Texas Senate race, coronavirus, border security and hydraulic fracturing.

Poll collaborations with Emerson College and Nexstar have also been carried out this year in Nevada, South Carolina, and California.

If you have not voted yet in Texas, go to this website for more information about what is on the ballot and where local polling places are.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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