Could Stoners Be Obama’s Secret Election Weapon?

Considering the inept performance of our 44th president and his penchant for eating food that his wife says is bad for Everybody else, maybe the legalization of pot is the perfect statement for his campaign: Is Legalizing Weed Obama’s Secret Weapon?

This year there’s another incumbent president with modest approval ratings who could turn out his base with controversial ballot measures. But this time, the issue features no biblical or scatological imagery. In 2012, voters in swing states will decide whether they’ll allow their fellow citizens to bear joints. Unlike the gay marriage votes, there’s no indication that Obama’s re-election team is behind any of the pot legalization initiatives, but there are Democrats who are hoping that it will boost turnout among weed’s biggest fans: young people.

Getting more young people to vote has long been a Democratic fantasy, since they tend to vote so heavily Democratic. But past attempts to bong the vote have been disappointing, in part because stoners aren’t the group anyone would most count on to bother filling out a ballot. Ahead of the 2010 midterms, The Wall Street Journal ran the story, “Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012,” noting that California’s pot-legalizing Proposition 19 was being studied to see if similar measures “could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.” But exit polls that year showed no spike in young voter turnout, and marijuana legalization was the top issue for just 1 in 10 voters, the Los Angeles Times reported. (Also: Californians ended up voting down Prop. 19.) Still, there were hopeful signs: 64 percent of voters 18-to-24 supported it, and 52 percent of voters 25-to-29 did. In March, the pro-legalization site Just Say Now suggested that the presidential election will draw more young people to the polls, and they’ll vote for pot legalization while they’re there.

I’m not so sure it’s that big of a deal and would drive young dopers to the ballot box, since it is only a ballot initiative in three states. Plus, getting stoners up off the couch is rather difficult. However, two of those states are Colorado and Ohio, two very important swing states. Furthermore, Obama has said nothing about legalizing marijuana, whether for medical use or simple personal use. I don’t think he cares less. For all we know, he might be against pot, being a father now.

Obama has no secret weapon. His drone strike and war policies are not particularly popular with young folks who tend to vote Democrat. These same young folks care about jobs. And there aren’t that many. The unemployment rate among 18-29 is 12.1%. With those who have given up it is 16.9%. Factoring underemployment, the rate is about 50%. And those who’ve graduated college aren’t thrilled with a job filling potholes and painting bridges for a few weeks.

Personally, I could care less if marijuana is legalized. It’s a lot less dangerous a drug than alcohol. Perhaps it would keep people from abusing prescription medication, which is a dangerous and growing trend. But, if this is his secret weapon, he’s bring a nerf gun to an artillery fight.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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