Democratic strategists have hit upon a new and hitherto untapped voter demographic. The demographic tends to be young, more liberal, and has a tendency to get stoned a lot. The idea is not quite as silly as it sounds.
Using polling data from various states, Democrats believe they have noticed that their candidates are doing slightly better in California than in other states. Proposition 19, a ballot initiative to reform marijuana laws in California, seems to be inspiring slightly more young people to express interest in voting.
Democrats are now wondering if starting ballot initiatives in other states might not boost the chances for their candidates.
“Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, conducted a survey in late August to test the effect of the California measure on voter turnout. In her poll, a quarter of Democrats said they were ‘extremely interested’ in voting in this year’s elections for governor and senator. When told about the marijuana measure, the number jumped to 38%, she said. She found no effect on Republican turnout.
“‘Moving forward, these kinds of initiatives could have a coattail effect for Democratic candidates,’ she said. She declined to say who hired her to test on the marijuana issue, saying just that it was a pro-Democratic group.”
Proposition 19 is slightly favored by 49 to 42 percent of California voters. Of course, a legalize-pot initiative might work differently in other states less liberal than California, say almost every other state in the Union. Still, when one faces the sort of political tsunami that the Democrats face this November, grasping at straws-or weed-might seem to be understandable.
Of course there is one thing that mitigates against rousing the stoner voter. They are stoners.
One of the more charming effects of smoking weed is that one becomes mellow, lacking in ambition and motivation. Keeping that in mind, the problem of asking a lot of such people to put aside their bong pipes, register to vote, and then actually go out and vote becomes a bigger problem than hitherto realized.
Also, it appears that very few,if any, politicians, even Barack Obama, want to touch this issue. Indeed, if Proposition 19 actually passes, the first act of the Obama administration will be to challenge it in the courts. That is hardly going to endear the President to the stoner demographic. Marijuana legalization, no matter what the reasoned arguments there are for it, is radioactive. It is, in a way, like same-sex marriage. Just as few if any politicians will openly come out for two men or two women getting married, no matter what their private feelings on the matter are; no one wants to come out in favor of legally getting stoned.
In other words, if the Democrats are right, the stoner vote may reelect Barbara Boxer for another term in the Senate, but perhaps at the cost of Barack Obama two years later.
Source: Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012, Peter Wallsten, Wall Street Journal, October 6th, 2010