Friday, September 16, 2016
If money really can "buy" elections, marijuana legalization in California should pass with nearly 98% of the vote
One of many reasons I find the politics of marijuana reform so interesting is because it can often provide interesting and telling (and often unexpected) lessons that can and should inform what we know and what we think we know about modern politics. One theme in modern politics and criticisms thereof concerns the role of money in elections and the notion that an issue or candidate that raises enough money will be sure to prevail in an election no matter what the voters really think of the substantive merits of that issue or candidate. Based on this recent reporting about some recent funding numbers surrounding the California marijuana legalization initiative, if this is true we should expect the pro-reform vote to win by a record-setting landslide:
California law enforcement organizations are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight efforts to repeal the death penalty and legalize marijuana, according to a MapLight analysis. While five of the 17 measures on the state’s November ballot concern crime and punishment, contributions from police groups are focused on three initiative battles [two on capital punishment and one on marijuana reform], the analysis found....
Police groups have contributed about 45 percent of the funding -- or $114,450 -- to the campaign against Proposition 64, a measure to legalize marijuana. The “no” campaign has raised a little more than $254,000, while supporters of the initiative have contributed about $11.5 million. Under state law, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction, punishable by a fine.
I have emphasized the line reporting that supporters of the marijuana reform initiative have in hand roughly 50 times more campaign resources to make their case to the voters. I do not find these campaign resource numbers at all surprising, but I also will not be surprised if it does not come anywhere close to translating into a landslide. (And if you want a firm prediction from me, as of this writing I am thinking that the marijuana reform initiative in California will pass by roughly a 55/45 margin.)