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  1. Florida Politics

PolitiFact Florida: Amendment 2 got more votes than most recent governors

Published Nov. 17, 2014

Floridians turned down a state constitutional amendment for medical marijuana, but it's clear that a majority of voters were all for the idea.

Amendment 2, which would have changed the state's Constitution to allow the sale of cannabis for "certain medical conditions," such as cancer and Parkinson's disease, rang up 57.6 percent of the vote. Unfortunately for the measure's supporters, amendments require at least 60 percent approval to pass.

That close margin means medical marijuana will continue to be debated — and not just in Florida. Two dozen states have medical marijuana laws, and Oregon and the District of Columbia voted to decriminalize recreational pot in the Nov. 4 general election.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the group behind the amendment, United for Care, tweeted two days after the election that the drug was more popular than Florida's governors.

The tweet from @bfgpollara states: "#YesOn2 got a higher % of the vote than the last 6 #flgov including @JebBush in his 2002 landslide #tallyorbust #2016."

We know that the past couple of elections Gov. Rick Scott hasn't even had to break 50 percent of the total votes in order to win, but is Pollara right about the past six Florida governors not garnering as much as 57.6 percent?

The Twitter shorthand "#flgov" generally refers to the gubernatorial campaign but has been used interchangeably to denote any tweet about a governor, too. We reached out to Pollara to ask him to clarify whether he meant the past six governors or the past six gubernatorial elections because there's a difference.

Pollara told us he meant the past six gubernatorial elections, going back to Lawton Chiles' victory over Jeb Bush in 1994.

But because of the tweet's wording, we looked at the past six governors elected, some of whom served two terms, going back to the 1978 campaign. Keep in mind, we're looking for governors who won 57.6 percent of the vote or higher. (See the chart.)

If we were to look only at the past six elections, Pollara could be correct because the highest margin of victory going back to 1994 was Bush's 56 percent in 2002 against Bill McBride. As Pollara noted when we contacted him, if you're counting that way, it could be the past eight elections.

But if we're going by individuals elected governor, there's one obvious outlier: Bob Graham, who was immensely popular and beat Republican state legislator Skip Bafalis with 64.7 percent of the vote in 1982.

For comparison, Amendment 2 garnered 3,370,323 out of 5,849,118 votes cast for the measure to get that 57.6 percent. That's more individual votes than any winning candidate has ever received.

Pollara said Amendment 2 won a higher percentage of the vote than did the past six Florida governors, including Bush's 2002 landslide.

He's right about the 2002 contest, and when you look back at the past six elections (eight, really) as Pollara intended, that's true, too. But Graham's win is nonetheless a glaring outlier when you look at the past six people elected governor.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/florida. Contact Joshua Gillin at jgillin@tampabay.com. Follow @jpgillin.

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