By Ryan Grim
Putting the question of marijuana legalization on state ballots in 2012 may be one of the most effective ways for a dispirited Democratic Party to get reluctant voters out to the polls. The wild card in the coming midterms and in 2012 will be the “surge” voters — people who were driven to the polls in 2008 through a once-in-a-generation mix of shame at the outgoing administration and hope in a new, barrier-breaking candidate. Democrats are investing millions in figuring out how to get those voters out, and the marijuana issue is getting increasing attention from political operatives.
A survey making the rounds among strategists, which has yet to be made public, indicates that pot could be just the enticement many of these voters need: Surge voters, single women under 40 and Hispanics all told America Votes pollsters that if a legalization measure were on the Colorado ballot, they’d be more likely to come out to vote. Forty-five percent of surge voters and 47 percent of single women said they’d be more interested in voting if the question was on the ballot. Most of these were energetic, with 36 and 30 percent, respectively, saying they’d be “much more interested” in coming out to vote. Roughly half said it would make no difference. For Latinos, 32 percent said they’d be “much more interested” in voting and another 12 percent said they’d be somewhat more attracted to the idea of trudging to the polls.