A hopeful note, but don’t get too excited. The data’s actually pretty discouraging.

Gallup’s October Crime poll finds 44% of Americans in favor of making marijuana legal and 54% opposed. U.S. public support for legalizing marijuana was fixed in the 25% range from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but acceptance jumped to 31% in 2000 and has continued to grow throughout this decade…

The highest level of support for decriminalizing the use of marijuana today is seen with self-described liberals, among whom 78% are in favor. In contrast, 72% of conservatives are opposed. Moderates are about evenly divided on whether the use of marijuana should be legal, although they tilt against it (51% vs. 46%)…

Gallup also finds a generational rift on the issue, as 50% of those under 50 and 45% of those 50 to 64 say it should be legal, compared with 28% of seniors.

Only 28 percent of Republicans support legalization, and regionally, only in the west does it enjoy majority approval. (In the midwest, which looks set to have an outsized role in presidential elections in 2012 and going forward, it’s at 42 percent.) I was thinking this morning that the positive bipartisan buzz The One’s getting for the DOJ’s new federalist policy on medical marijuana might tempt him to consider a broader legalization effort — which he once kinda sorta supported — but these numbers make it unlikely. Even with support at an all-time high he’s still 10 points in the hole, and with ObamaCare on his plate and the looming meltdown of Medicare and Social Security, ain’t no way no chance no how either side’s going to further antagonize high-turnout seniors by defending the demon weed. Exit question: 72 percent of conservatives oppose legalization? Pathetic.