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Prop. 19 to legalize pot had strong youth support, but only the Bay Area tilted toward the measure, exit polls found

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Prop. 19, the measure to legalize marijuana in California, drew its strongest support from voters under 25 years old, Democrats and big-city-dwellers.

But the California exit poll also found that opposition to the initiative was widespread. The Bay Area was the only region that tilted toward the measure -- and just barely, at 51% to 49%. It lost 54% to 46% in Los Angeles County, and 59% to 41% in the rest of Southern California.

Men and women opposed it. Voters of every race and ethnicity opposed it. Asian American voters were most strongly against it, 62% to 38%, according to the poll conducted by Edison Research for the National Voter Pool, a consortium of the major television news networks and the Associated Press.

Voters 65 and older opposed it by more than 2 to 1. Support was strongest among voters between 18 and 24, who went for it 64% to 36%. Voters between 25 and 29 narrowly backed it, 52% to 48%. But voters under 30 made up just 13% of the electorate, about the same as is typical in a midterm election. In presidential election years, these voters are at least 20% of the turnout.

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The poll found that the initiative did not win over the state’s middle-of-the-road voters, who make up the decisive swing vote. Although voters who think of themselves as Democrats went for it, 55% to 45%, nonpartisan and third-party voters went against it, 54% to 46%. Republicans rejected it 70% to 30%. Liberals supported the measure, but both moderates and conservatives sided against it.

Neither income nor education seemed to make a big difference, although voters with a high school degree or less were most strongly opposed, turning 61% to 39% against it.

-- John Hoeffel

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