I’m sorry, but “marijuana criminalization” is a policy on which the Dems need to compromise to reach out to voters in the heartland:
This position may play well with anti-legalization activists on Twitter, or nanny-state-loving paleo-progressives. But salt-of-the-earth Americans in flyover country want big government to keep its hands off their bongs.
A Pew Research survey released last week found that 67 percent of Americans believe “the use of marijuana should be made legal.” A recent Gallup poll put that figure at (a statistically identical) 66 percent. Critically, weed legalization isn’t just popular with the public as a whole, but also with key Electoral College constituencies. In Pew’s survey, non-college-educated voters — who are overrepresented in battleground states — were even more likely to support legalization than college-educated ones, with only 31 percent of working-class Americans backing Biden’s stance.
This comports with the findings of a recent poll from the progressive think tank Data for Progress and data-science firm Civis Analytics. By fielding a large-sample national survey and then applying state-of-the-art demographic modeling techniques to its results, DFP was able to estimate the level of support for marijuana legalization in all 50 states. It found legal weed polling at (a very nice) 69 percent among all registered voters in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and at 68 percent with such voters in Michigan. Meanwhile, independent voters in those states backed legalization at even higher levels, with nearly three-fourths of indie Michiganders, Wisconsinite, and Pennsylvanians voicing approval (support among independents in Sun Belt battlegrounds like Florida and Arizona was nearly identical). What’s more, in an unsurprising finding — given younger Americans’ relatively high affinity for marijuana and low propensity for casting ballots — support for legalizing weed among registered nonvoters in battleground states hovered around 75 percent. The analysis’s most remarkable finding, however, may have been this: A majority of Trump voters in 49 U.S. states backed an end to weed prohibition.
Marijuana legalization might not be the most important or salient issue of the day. But there simply aren’t many other policy fights that are more favorable to the Democratic Party. Hoping to win back non-college-educated independents in the Rust Belt? Nearly three-quarters of them want Uncle Sam to recognize their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of dank kush. Want to run a “mobilization” campaign that brings Dem-leaning nonvoters off of democracy’s sidelines? Virtually all of them are high on legal weed. Worried that narrowcasting to targeted constituencies could pull Democrats too far from the American mainstream? Even among Republican voters, a solid majority are 420 friendly.
This really is the ultimate political no-brainer, even if older pols can’t see it. It’s a case where doing the right thing is extremely popular, and also has a much higher chance of mobilizing constituencies who are generally less likely to vote. The non-Biden candidates need to get loudly and clearly on the decriminalization train as soon as possible.