Political campaigns sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to try to spin facts to suit their objectives, but a statement issued this afternoon by the folks opposed to Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize marijuana, is so contorted that one can only guess what mind-altering activities its authors must have had to engage in to come up with it.
A Survey USA poll conducted for four California television stations showed the initiative leading 47 percent to 43 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
So what's the news, as interpreted by the No on 19 group? "A majority of voters is opposed or uncertain."
Well, yes, 43 plus 10 does equal 53. But there is that inconvenient fact that more people who've made up their minds are in favor of allowing Californians to legally purchase and possess small amounts of pot than are against the idea.
It is true that, as a general rule, initiatives that do not have significant majority support at this stage in a campaign are typically in trouble. But the new polling numbers suggest that both supporters and opponents have their work cut out for them between now and November. The public is basically split on this issue, and 9 in 10 voters have pretty much made up their minds. The effectiveness of the campaigns will very much matter.
Another way of looking at the poll numbers is that opponents must win over 71 percent of the undecided in order to defeat it, while supporters need to win over only 31 percent of the undecided in order to win.