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California Counts poll: Kamala Harris, measure to legalize recreational pot far ahead

Correction: Our original story stated that the poll sought to capture the sentiments of all Californians rather than likely or registered voters. We based that statement on information provided by the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State, which conducted the survey. While most of the poll's questions were asked of a representative sample of Californians, the poll's author later informed us that only the responses of registered voters were used for questions about the November election, including the U.S. Senate race and Proposition 64. We have updated our story and apologize for the error.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris continues to hold a big lead in the state’s open U.S. Senate race over Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

More than half of respondents — 51 percent — say they would vote for Harris in a new poll commissioned by the California Counts public media collaboration. Just 19 percent favor Sanchez.

“There’s no split where Sanchez is leading,” says Kim Nalder, the political director for the CALSPEAKS Opinion Research Center at Sacramento State, which conducted the poll. “She gets 29 percent from 29 to 34-year-olds. That’s one of her high numbers, whereas Harris is getting a majority in a lot of the subcategories.”

Explore the Data on the Harris/Sanchez 2016 Senate Race
Republicans were the most likely to not have their minds made up in the race. Thirty-six percent of GOP voters were undecided.

Both Harris and Sanchez are Democrats. This is the first time two members of the same party have faced each other in a statewide runoff since California adopted the top-two primary. They are running to replace another Democrat, retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. 

The poll also asked registered voters' opinions of Proposition 64 — the November ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana. It found 71 percent in favor of legalization, with 26 percent opposed.

But support for marijuana legalization could decrease somewhat as initiative campaigns begin in earnest. Nalder says a majority of Californians initially supported legislation in 2010, but voters turned against details in Proposition 19. 

Explore the data on Prop 64
“People thought it wasn’t prudent in a lot of ways. And so even though there were a number of voters who were generically in favor of legalizing marijuana, they voted against it,” says Nalder. “I suspect [this year] most voters haven’t gotten out their ballot guide yet and done their homework, and so it could change if they don’t like some of the details in this one.”

California Counts Survey_Part 1 by Southern California Public Radio on Scribd

Editor’s Notes: California Counts is a collaboration with four public media organizations in California to cover the 2016 election. This includes KPCC in Los AngelesKQED in San FranciscoCapital Public Radio in Sacramento and KPBS in San Diego. The initiative's focus is on statewide issues and contests, including the U.S. Senate race to choose a successor to Sen. Barbara Boxer and key ballot measures such as the legalization of recreational marijuana. The collaboration also includes social media campaigns— #CAcounts and #whatsmyissue — and a town hall series on the California ballot.

The Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State fielded the survey online and through the mail from Aug. 15 to 24, 2016, using the CALSPEAKS survey panel. It yielded 915 completed surveys and 44 partially completed surveys. CALSPEAKS obtains a representative sample of Californians, stratified by the five major regions in the state. For information on the methodology, please visit: www.csus.isr/CALSPEAKS. Only registered voters were allowed to respond to the questions about the November election (the U.S. Senate race and propositions 57, 63 and 64). The margin of error for the distribution of responses on any individual survey item is equal to or less than +/- four percentage points.

Respondents to the marijuana legalization ballot measure were erroneously asked about “Proposition 65,” although the actual ballot measure is Proposition 64. Respondents have been re-contacted so that they are aware of our error. The authors of the survey are confident this error does not affect the accuracy of the results.

Series: California Counts

California Counts is a collaboration of KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio to report on the 2016 election. The coverage focuses on major issues and solicits diverse voices on what's important to the future of California.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #CACounts.