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The Truth About the 'Marijuana Effect' in America's Elections

March 31, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Marijuana on the ballot boosts voter turnout, but that may not help many Democrats this year.


Last week, a bipartisan George Washington University Battleground poll made national headlines when the top Democratic researcher, Celinda Lake, said that ballot questions on marijuana could increase young voter turnout.

“We’re very excited about our marijuana numbers in this poll, not only for personal consumption to get through this election, but in terms of turnout,’ Lake told USA Today. “What’s really interesting and, I think, a totally unwritten story is that everyone taks about marriage equality hitting a tipping point (of acceptance). Marijuana is hitting the tipping point. It’s really astounding how fast it’s moved.”  

Lake’s findings may be good news for the legalization movement in the long run. But Democrats should not conclude that the presence of pot issues on a handful of ballots in 2014 will bring out a wider youth vote and help them stay in power nationally. That’s because there aren’t many states with marijuana initiatives on the ballot in 2014—just Alaska and Florida so far, although Oregon is expecting a measure on the fall ballot. Pot may help turn out voters in those states, but that’s not unfolding on a scale that would impact whether the Senate keeps its Democratic majority.

Democrats have been seeking an electoral silver bullet for this year’s federal elections. They keep on hearing that constituencies that twice helped elect President Obama will skip voting this year. On Monday, the Times said that Latinos were deeply frustrated with both parties; blaming the GOP for blocking immigration reform and blaming Obama for deporting millions of family members.  

That Democrats have been looking to efforts such as minimum wage increase ballot measures to bring out voters. This November, four states, including three with key Senate races—Alaska, Arkansas and Michigan—will vote on wage increases. In contrast, Alaska will vote on legalizing recreational pot in August, where it will likely lure voters in that off-season contest. Alaska’s inititiative would allow people age 21 and older to have up to an ounce and six …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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