TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – About six months before Election Day, Florida voters overwhelmingly support a broad legalization of medical marijuana but are less clear about a critical U.S. Senate race, a new poll shows.
The poll, released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, said 80 percent of voters support a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow medical marijuana for patients with a wide range of conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
Support for the proposal cuts across political and demographic lines. For example, it is supported by 71 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats. It is supported by 80 percent of men and 81 percent of women. And it is supported by 89 percent of voters ages 18 to 34 and by 79 percent of voters who are 65 and older.
One caveat: Early polls in 2014 showed wide support for a similar ballot proposal to legalize medical marijuana. That initiative, however, ultimately fell short of getting the required 60 percent voter approval after facing a barrage of negative ads from opponents.
People United for Medical Marijuana, a group that backed the 2014 initiative, tweaked the wording of this year's proposal to try to help inoculate it against political and legal attacks. But the group will again need to hit the 60 percent mark to be successful, under part of the Constitution setting requirements for ballot initiatives.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other key political states. It released a survey Tuesday that showed the presidential race in Florida too close to call between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
The results released Wednesday pointed to an unsettled race for a U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio. The race could help determine which party controls the Senate after the November elections, but the candidates went into the race little-known by most Florida voters.
Democrat Patrick Murphy, a congressman from the state's Treasure Coast, appeared to do slightly better than the other Senate candidates in head-to-head matchups in the poll.
For instance, Murphy led Republican businessman Carlos Beruff by a margin of 38 percent to 32 percent and led Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera by a margin of 38 percent to 34 percent. He also led Republican businessman Todd Wilcox by a margin of 38 percent to 33 percent. But Murphy was virtually deadlocked with GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis and led Congressman David Jolly by only 3 percentage points.
Matchups between the other leading Democrat in the race, Congressman Alan Grayson, and each of the Republican candidates were within the poll's 3-point margin of error.
"The Florida U.S. Senate race is wide open with none of the seven candidates particularly well-known to voters," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a comments released with the poll results.
The poll of 1,051 registered Florida voters was conducted from April 27 to Sunday. This year's general election will be held Nov. 8.