Pot on the ballot is a good way to boost turnout, new study says

in Uncategorized by

Who could benefit the most from the Florida constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana?

Democrats – including Charlie Crist, the likely gubernatorial candidate in November.

Alex Seitz-Wald of the National Journal reports on a new survey by George Washington University, through two polling firms, one Democratic and the other Republican, that suggests voters are much more likely to go to the polls if a measure to legalize marijuana is on the ballot. 

Traditionally low midterm turnout, along with some challenging races, leaves Democrats hoping to minimize losses in November by enticing voters to the polls by any means necessary, which in a variety of states will include marijuana initiatives.

A minimum of six states could have marijuana on the ballot this year.

The GW Battleground Poll conducted by both the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, asked likely voters how much more (or less) likely they would vote “if there was a proposal on the ballot to legalize the use of marijuana.”

“Much more likely,” was the best response, chosen by 39 percent. “Somewhat more likely,” was the next highest, with 30 percent of responses.

Only 13 percent would be somewhat or much less likely to vote, and 16 percent said legalizing pot would make no difference.

This means that for 68 percent of likely voters, legalized marijuana is an incentive to vote in November.

Further examination of the numbers by the National Journal shows that liberals (unsurprisingly) are more excited about legal pot than moderates or conservatives, with  than three-quarters (76 percent) would be more likely to vote if the ballot included a measure to legalize marijuana. In comparison, 64 percent of conservatives and 61 percent of moderates would be more likely to hit the ballot box. 

“These numbers provide even more evidence that marijuana reform is a mainstream issue and that smart politicians would do well to start treating it as such,” Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell, tells the National Journal. “More politicians might want to find reasons to start saying good things about this issue.”

Of course, there are some of those voting on legalizing marijuana who will cast ballots against the idea, but national surveys have found the public is generally in favor of liberalizing the current marijuana laws.

The GW survey age breakdown found voters between the ages of 45 and 64 are most favorable to voting on a legalization measure, although numbers overall suggest that across all age ranges the increased desire to vote increases, except for those over 65.

Florida Democrats, including Crist — the potential frontrunner for governor — should be taking careful notes right now.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.