Note to Republicans: Want the Millennial Vote? Support Weed
Cannabis may in fact sway the 2016 Presidential election. In a recent segment of commentary for Roll Call, political consultant Steven Moore attracts eyes to an interesting phenomenon, which displays the millennial generation is more likely to cast a ballot in an election if the concern of cannabis is at risk. He goes on to say that if a Republican expects to get their hands on the keys to the White House in 2016, it will be important to get the nation’s youth on their team, and the best plan for succeeding with this goal may be to take a pro-cannabis platform.
However the constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis in Florida failed in last November’s election, Moore gives details that Republicans should keep a close eye to the youthful enthusiasm built up by the issue. While voter turnout across the U.S. was low, Florida experienced a 10% gain from 2010. Also, millennia’s took over a larger share of the electorate by 6%, while seniors fell off by 10 points.
To prove even more that cannabis is a popular conern among millennial voters, look to the passing of Colorado’s Amendment 64 in 2012. During the election, the state witnessed 11% more voters under the age of 29 than in 2008. And in Washington state, there was a 4% gain in voters under the age of 30.
If medicinal cannabis makes it to the Florida ballot in 2016, which is expected, Moore proposes it will raise “marijuana law reform from a state issue to a national issue” since “most strategists see few options for a Republican in the White House if Democrats win Florida.”
Obama won Florida in 2008 with 61% of the millennial vote; 66% in 2012. However, Republicans McCain and Romney were defeated in the election by a few points. “With the margin so slim, and the trend over time going the wrong way, Republicans don’t necessarily need to win millennials, they just need to not lose them so badly,” stated by Moore.
Yet it might prove challenging for Republicans to gain the attention of millennials while protecting their base, Moore believes the problem might not be as hard to conquer as it has been in the past. “An October ’14 Gallup poll shows that nationally, one in three conservatives and four in ten Republicans favor making marijuana completely legal,” he stated, adding that “Republican support for marijuana legalization has nearly doubled since 2006.”
It is true that cannabis legalization is widely viewed as a state issue, which Moore argues would be precise if it were not “for the disproportionate influence the state of Florida has on presidential elections.”
It is for this reason that Moore throws caution to the wind with Republicans not to speak ill of cannabis reform. “Prohibitionist rhetoric may drive away the unique intersection of millennial and Republican voters likely to decide next year’s razor-thin presidential margins in Florida. Alternatively, addressing the issue in a thoughtful and strategic manner may serve to bring these voters into the GOP tent, and help assure a Republican in the White House.”