An advanced look at a survey of California done by Public Policy Polling revealed that while Prop 19 is not the top reason why people are voting this year, it is inspiring young people to vote. 34% of those who described themselves as enthusiastic about voting for 19 are under age 30, and 64% are under age 45. These younger voters also favor Democrats Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown by 34 and 36 points each.
According to PPP, Prop 19, which is the ballot proposal to legalize marijuana in the state, is the third most popular most motivating issue for California voters. The gubernatorial race between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman tops the list of what voters are most excited to vote for at 39%. The US Senate race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina is second at 26%. It is followed by Prop 19 at 10%. Not surprisingly, the voters who are most excited about Prop 19 are young. 34% are under age 30. This number is almost three times larger than their percentage of the entire electorate (12%). Voters under age 45 make up 40% of the state’s electorate, but 64% say they are excited about Prop 19.
The so called Pot Voter heavily leans Democratic. These voters favor Barbara Brown by 34 points and Jerry Brown by 36 points. The increased Democratic voter turnout could mean that despite spending $163 million on the race, Meg Whitman could be defeated by Jerry Brown. You have to wonder if Meg’s millions might have been better spent on a few more dime bags and few less negative television ads. Apparently, these stoners aren’t for sale.
On his Friday night HBO program, Real Time, host Bill Maher argued that Democrats should seize on the marijuana legalization issue. Maher said, “In the legalization of marijuana the Democrats finally could have something that they have always wanted a wedge issue. Remember wedge issues? Things like gay marriage, and prayer in school, and other bullshit that Republicans used for years to get hillbillies to the polls. That’s how Bush got elected in 2004.” Maher pointed out that young voter turnout is expected to double due to Prop 19 in California from 6% to 12%.
Maher made a very logical point that is backed by the polling data. Marijuana legalization is a powerful issue with young voters because they really don’t see what the big deal is about pot. To them, this is another stupid conservative position, just like their opposition to gay marriage. The problem with using the marijuana legalization issue is that it requires the proper demographics in order to fare well. In more conservative states, or states with aging populations, the legalization issue could back fire, and turn Republicans out to the polls.
While not the most representative state to judge the potency of this issue on, California, due to its demographics, does provide a look into the policy direction that the nation might go in once it younger and more diverse. As the white haired culture warriors age and fade away, the next generation is likely to engage in some real common sense politics, and near the top of their list will be the legalization of marijuana.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association