Poll Finds Evidence Prop 19 is Motivating Young Voters
Yes, marijuana legalization can motivate young people to vote. Today, there is new evidence from PPP that Proposition 19, the effort legalize marijuana in California, is in fact motivating people to go vote this year. From Tom Jensen at PPP:
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.
The folks who say Prop 19 is what they’re most enthusiastic about voting for skew very young: 34% of them are under 30, compared to 12% of the overall electorate, and 64% of them are under 45, compared to 40% of the overall electorate.
California is one of the few states to show very high engagement among young voters, and this is likely, at least in good part, a result of Prop 19 being on the ballot.
The poll also found that those who said they were most excited about voting for Prop 19 overwhelming support Democratic candidates Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer:
There is no way of knowing for sure whether the voters who say Prop 19 is what they’re most interested in would vote this year if it wasn’t on the ballot. But we do know that group favors Barbara Boxer by a 34 point margin and Jerry Brown by a 36 point margin. At 10% of the electorate that means the marijuana question could be worth as much as 3.4% for Boxer and 3.6% for Brown.
If all of the 10 percent who are excited about Prop 19 are regular voters who would have turned out anyway, then the effect of Prop 19 on the governor’s race will be zero. If all of that 10 percent are only going to turn out because of Prop 19, then it is helping Brown gain 3.6 percent. The likely result is likely somewhere in between. Prop 19 will probably end up helping Brown and Boxer gain an extra one to two percent.
Seeing marijuana legalization’s ability to motivate voters, one would hope Democrats–and Republicans who rediscover their William Buckley-inspired small government roots–would come out in support of legalization in an effect to appeal to young voters. It truly pains me to see any politician, including Brown and Boxer, benefit from the strong grassroots support for an important issue they publicly oppose.