The Amendment 2 campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida has been a roller coaster ride for the last several months; and if you are a would-be investor in Florida’s medical marijuana, you are probably on the edge of your seat right now.
Polls from earlier this year indicated that 88 percent of Floridians supported Amendment 2. Unfortunately, as the election draws closer, and as political donations keep pouring into the state, polls for Amendment 2 have been showing more and more discouraging numbers.
According to a poll conducted by Gravis Marketing published on October 26, 2014, 42 percent of Floridians oppose Amendment 2, eight percent are unsure, and only 50 percent are in favor of the measure; that is just 10 points shy of the 60 percent margin required to pass the constitutional amendment.
This bleak prediction has left many Amendment 2 supporters stunned. Some people now believe that Amendment 2 is dead in the water.
Part of the reason Amendment 2 has been slipping in the polls lately has been due to the fact that the opponents of Amendment 2 were able to dominate the narrative for the last few weeks by launching a TV ad blitz. Ads are expensive, and the Vote Yes on 2 coalition is simply outgunned in the finance department.
However, expensive television ads can only go so far when it comes to affecting the outcome of a race. As we saw in Alaska a few weeks ago, sometimes the results of a poll depends on who is asking the question and how they are asking it.
In response to the dismal polling numbers of Amendment 2, medical marijuana advocacy group United For Care hired Anzalone Liszt Grove Research to conduct a statewide poll. According to its latest poll, Amendment 2 is just barely squeaking by at 62 percent in favor, 35 percent against and three percent undecided.
One of the reasons why this poll may have yielded different results is that both polls phrased the question differently. Gravis Marketing merely summarized the text of Amendment 2, while ALG Research actually read from the text of the amendment.
It is also worth noting that Gravis Marketing has not had a very good year in getting polling predictions right. Recently Slate bestowed Gravis with the prestigious “Strategic Vision Award for Botched Polling” for their inadequate predictions of the Texas Republican Senate primary.
Incumbent John Cornyn was polling at 43 percent while his opponent was at 28 percent. On election day Cornyn won 61 percent of the vote, an 18 percent difference. For pollsters, 18 percent is a huge margin of error.
This is not to say that Gravis Marketing is wholly incompetent, but it is definitely getting harder to predict election results. In fact, prominent poll aggregator Five Thirty Eight took the time to poll the major polling organizations and many of them predicted that there will be greater polling errors this election cycle.
So is Amendment 2 in trouble or does it have enough momentum to get to 60 percent? The answer is we don’t know. As you can tell, this election is far too close to call.
What we do know is that there is a lot of money riding on this election. Florida estimates that the medical marijuana industry in the state could potentially generate up to $5.6 billion annually. That is a figure large enough to make any investor salivate.
Between problematic polling and entrenched interests, the only way we are going to find out if Amendment 2 will pass is to count the votes at the end of Election Day. In the meantime, Floridians can hold their breath, vote and hope for the best.