Both sides taking issue with Times poll on Amendment 2

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The campaign manager for the effort to pass Amendment 2, authorizing the medicinal use of marijuana, is not concerned about a poll indicating support has dropped below the 60 percent threshold needed to pass the ballot initiative.

A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News9/UF Bob Graham Center poll found 56 percent of respondents support it, 24 percent oppose and the remaining respondents and 17 percent said they had not thought about it.

“I’m not sweating over this,” said Ben Pollara of United for Care.

The poll does seem to be outlier. A Quinnipiac survey revealed 88 percent support in July and a United for Care poll found 2 – 1 in support with just 2 percent undecided.

The Times/News/UF poll surveyed 814 registered Florida voters Aug. 27 – 31 and included respondents using land-line and cellphones. It has a margin of error of  3.4 percentage points but used non-standard weighting mechanisms, relied on voter data from a private company instead of the Division of Elections and the methodology used won’t be fully released until the Times publishes another story.

Pollara expressed doubt about its findings because of the high number of undecided and the lack of an effort to determine how strongly respondents held their position.

“Had the TBT poll pushed voters to make a choice about Amendment 2, it would almost certainly be above 60 percent where the vast preponderance of polls continues to place the issue’s support,” said Pollara. “Applying the metrics we used in our last poll to the Times poll and support would be around 67 percent.”

The pollsters though suggest Pollara is missing the point.

“There are still a lot of people who don’t know about it, haven’t thought about it or haven’t made up their minds,” Dr. Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center and director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research told the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s not the slam dunk that previous polls suggested,” said McCarty.