Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why the GOP needs to embrace marijuana reform ASAP: "The GOP Is Dying Off. Literally."

The title of this post come from my reaction to the headline of this Politico article, which carries the headline appearing in quotes above.  Here is an excerpt that helps highlight why I think the GOP risks becoming a marginal party if it does not get on the marijuana reform bandwagon:

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all. The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

Since it appears that no political data geek keeps track of voters who die between elections, I took it upon myself to do some basic math. And that quick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.

As regular readers know, Florida had a big marijuana reform initiative on its ballot in 2014 and Ohio is headed toward an even bigger reform voter initiative in 2015.  In Florida in 2014, as has been the usual pattern, Democrats were far more inclined to endorse marijuana reform and they garnered more younger voters.   The same pattern is already playing out in Ohio in the run up to the 2015 vote.  Consider also another swing state, Virginia, in which this recent marijuana legalization poll highlights these age/opinion demographics in the state:  "Voters 18 to 34 years old support recreational marijuana 75-21 percent, while voters 35 to 54 percent support it 59-36 percent.  Voters over 55 years old are opposed 52-43 percent."   

I consider of particular importance in this political/practical setting  not only what issues are likely to attract young voters to particular parties and candidates, but also what issues are likely to motivate younger Americans to register and actually turn out to vote on election day.  Especially in Ohio, where the marijuana reform backers have a significant war chest, there is likely to be a special effort in 2015 in getting younger folks (especially college students) registered to vote AND actually voting in an off-off year election.  If new, younger voters in Ohio and elsewhere, who start getting focused on state and national politics because of marijuana reform, see GOP candidates only as vocal reform opponents (despite some having been notable marijuana users themselves like Jeb Bush), I think the bad demographic trends stressed in this Politico article are likely only to get worse for the GOP.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2015/05/why-the-gop-needs-to-embrace-marijuana-reform-asap-the-gop-is-dying-off-literally.html

History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Who decides | Permalink

Comments

The problem with the GOP embracing marijuana reform is that most of them have literally become brainwashed by their own propaganda. It really is that simple. For decades, tenured Republican politicians have positioned themselves as staunch prohibitionists. For a lot of these guys there's no going back. Indiana governor Mike Pence is a perfect example. To entertain any sort of marijuana reform would be admitting that he has been dead wrong about something he's been railing about his entire political career, That is never going to happen.

Posted by: Channing Webster | May 29, 2015 12:19:55 AM

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