Will Washington Democrats Be Hurt by the Lack of a Pro-Pot Initiative on the Ballot?

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When petitioners for I-1068, an initiative that would have made all pot use legal for adults in Washington, fell 50,000 signatures short of making it on to November's ballot, they didn't just harsh the buzz of every person fed up with the state's conflicting marijuana laws. They also may have provided a huge letdown for Democrats fighting to win election, or re-election, this campaign season.

That's the tentative conclusion Joshua Green comes to in this Atlantic blog post.

The theory goes like this. Legalization is most popular amongst young people. And traditionally, young people prefer Democrats. So if you get a legalization initiative on the ballot -- as half a dozen states around the country have -- you'll likely get an extra boost from a small segment of the population that wouldn't normally vote.

As Green writes, it's similar to Karl Rove's successful get-out-the-vote strategy for Republicans in 2004: the "political genius" encouraged states to include initiatives banning gay marriage in order to ensure that the reddest of red-blooded social conservatives would make it into voting booths. Once there, some unknown but presumably significant number pulled a lever for his boy George W.

That "presumably significant" line is, itself, significant. This idea is still that: a theory that doesn't have a lot of data to support it.

But it does pass the smell test. And it does make you wonder if traditional Democratic-backers like the SEIU didn't shoot themselves in the foot by not helping I-1068 get on the ballot.

 
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