Over the past month or so, there has been a mini-boomlet in coverage about the potential impact of marijuana initiatives on young voter turnout. Most notably, an article in the Wall Street Journal appeared earlier this month with the headline, “Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012.”
With this as background, it was interesting to see this blog post by the polling firm PPP yesterday prior to today’s release of a survey on Proposition 19 in California, the initiative to tax and regulate marijuana in the state:
One of the big questions in California this year has been how big of an impact Proposition 19, the ballot proposal to legalize marijuana, will have on turnout in the state. In an effort to figure that out we asked respondents on our new survey there what on the ballot they were most excited about voting for: 39% said the Governor’s race, 26% the Senate race, 10% Prop 19, 4% one of the other props, 2% a local race, 1% their US House race, and 18% said they weren’t sure.
But this 10 percent figure did not appropriately convey the true impact of the initiative on voter turnout. If you examine the crosstabs provided by PPP today along with the full results of the survey (click on “here” at the end of the hyperlinked blog post), you will see that young voters – who are less likely to vote in a mid-term election – expressed much greater enthusiasm about Prop. 19. When voters 18-29 were asked which race they were most excited about a full 29 percent said Prop. 19!
Marijuana-related initiatives do inspire young voter turnout. The only question is whether progressives, who will generally benefit from this increased turnout, will take advantage of it politically.