Brain Trust: California marijuana legalization vote

2010-11-01

Here are the current odds from the Mike Caro Brain Trust:

Proposition 19 on the California ballot for the November 2 election would legalize restricted levels of marijuana possession and small-scale personal farming. What are the chances it will pass?

50-1 against (2010-11-01 at 9:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time)

What is the over/under “betting line” for the percentage of voters who will support the measure?

46% (2010-11-01 at 9:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time)


Important: The over/under above was originally published as 41%. That was a typo and not our prediction, as can be clearly seen by reading the “Examination” text below. In particular, the last sentence is, “… we think the initiative is almost certain to fail and will lose by about 8 percentage points.” Those “8 percentage points” translate to a 54-46 defeat. A 41% prediction would mean we were targeting a 59-41 defeat, 18 points. Furthermore, we stated, “… the results will be close to what recent polls suggest.” No polls showed anything close to an 18-point margin. We apologize for not catching the typo immediately.


Examination

This initiative had a good chance of passing a month ago. Enthusiasm among California voters (recently liberal, especially in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas) has faded. Some suggest that polls are inaccurate on the marijuana issue because people will say they’re against it when they’re secretly for it — to avoid embarrassment.

We think this depends greatly on whom the voter perceives to be asking the question. If the voter suspects that the interviewer may lean liberal, exactly the opposite may occur and a “no” voter may express a “yes” intention when polled.

On balance, we believe that much-talked-about factor is a non-issue and the results will be close to what recent polls suggest. In the broader national political arena, latest national polls indicate a surge toward the Republicans in the final day. This could mean that fewer supporters of the marijuana ballot initiative, who might otherwise have gone to the poll to vote for Democrats, will actually vote. Discouraged voters are more likely to stay home.

Put it all together and we think the initiative is almost certain to fail and will lose by about 8 percentage points. — MC

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

3 thoughts on “Brain Trust: California marijuana legalization vote”

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  1. Not that it matters since the issue is moot, but I think that a huge reason 19 didn’t pass was that, if it did, the Fed would probably start enforcing against the Medical people. I doubt that they would feel they had a choice. Many that would be in favor of legalization decided to leave well enough alone for the time being and wait for a better spot to move all in.

  2. think you are wrong. would put the over/under line at 56% yes. i believe that the most censuses pre-election will be biased in the selection, toward no-voters, people who are over 60 are more likely to actually have a land-line telephone, and so on. I also believe people who are in favour of the proposition are a lot more likely to vote.

    1. Hi, fivefingers —

      Thanks for joining our Poker1 family by making your first comment.

      We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Remember that by making the odds 50-to-1 against passage, we’re saying that there’s one chance in 51 that the initiative will pass. This means that if we made 5,100 similar predictions, about 100 times a proposition would be approved and 5,000 times it wouldn’t.

      You can’t draw any conclusions about right or wrong from a single event. But if we made the odds 50-to-1 that same 5,100 times and the “underdog” event never happened, that would mean our odds were probably very wrong, even though most people would give us credit for having been right.

      All this will be explained when the “Brain Trust Methods” link above is activated.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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