If Marijuana Legalization Is On The Cards, Voters Are More Likely To Turn Up, Suggests New Poll

A new poll reports people are more likely to vote if marijuana legalization is on the ballot, which should excite weed proponents and Democrat supporters alike. Conducted by a bipartisan firm with George Washington University, the poll found that 69 percent of "likely voters" considered themselves even more likely to head to the polls if they'd get to vote on legalization, while just 13 percent said they'd be less likely.

Self-described liberals are the most excited by the possibility, with 76 percent more likely to vote — but the Right is motivated by it as well, with 64 percent of conservatives responding the same way.

That doesn't necessarily mean all of these people are animated to vote in favor of legalized marijuana, of course; some could be opposed. The question didn't ask about support. Rather, it asked how alluring the choice itself would be to people that had already classified themselves as "likely voters."

For Democrats, who are keener than ever to ensure voter turnout doesn't sag in the upcoming midterm elections, this poll ought to be a wakeup call. It's too late for the midterms themselves: With November just eight months away, it's not as if ballot initiatives to legalize pot could or would have the time to sprout up and turn any tides. The impact marijuana could have in future elections, however, is becoming increasingly clear, and Democrats ought to take notice.

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Support for marijuana legalization has been a clear majority position in the U.S. for a little while now — a huge swing in public opinion from even just five or six years ago. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have already legalized and regulated sales of marijuana.

If Democrats wait too long to act on this momentum, they risk more clever Republicans recognizing the symmetry between legalization and their professed beliefs about small government, individual liberty, personal responsibility — and grabbing the advantage.