Presidential candidates serious about moving into the White House at the end of the 2016 election may want to seriously consider a campaign platform in support of legalized marijuana. It is a no-brainer strategy considering that a recent Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll indicated that the majority of voters in the key states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania stand in support of efforts to abolish prohibition and bring cannabis to the market for both medicinal and recreational use.
While some presidential hopefuls may consider the issue of legal weed somewhat taboo on the campaign trail, the latest poll revealed that a candidate must at least side with the legalization of medical marijuana if he or she intends to win the majority vote in the swing states. In Florida and Ohio, 84 percent of voters support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, while the issue attracted an impressive 88 percent in Pennsylvania. And while the majority of the support was not as vast for the legalization of a full-blown recreational cannabis market, all three states still ranked over 50 percent in favor of taxing and regulating the herb in a manner similar to alcohol.
Without a doubt, the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana has become a mainstream favorite among issues of public concern, even though the majority says they do not plan to partake in the substance, if and when, legalization happens. The poll found that while most support efforts to legalize weed, over 80 percent claim that they would “definitely” or “probably” not use the herb themselves.
The latest results of the Quinnipiac Poll are not surprising to those with their finger on the pulse of modern political strategy. Earlier this year, a report from The Brookings Institution suggested that the issue of legalization during the 2016 presidential campaign would be more important than ever before. It certainly appears as though American citizens have grown more opinionated on the issue since President Obama was first elected, which means his potential successor will not have the luxury of dodging the debate under the guise of humor and youthful indiscretion.
“Gone are the days where college-age cannabis use was a scandal among White House contenders,” John Hudak wrote on behalf of the institution. “Because marijuana is an issue that no president will be able to ignore, it is an issue no presidential candidate will be able to avoid.”
In a recent piece for Roll Call, political consultant Steven Moore said that in order for a Republican presidential candidate to stand a fighting change in the 2016 election, he or she would need to win Florida; and to do that a pro-marijuana platform would be necessary. This is because voter turn out, especially with respect to millennials, is higher when the issue of marijuana is at stake.
“Any Republican with presidential ambitions should pay attention to the youth and vigor shown by the 2014 Florida exit polls,” Moore wrote. “Despite a historically low voter turnout nationwide, 10 percent more Floridians voted in 2014 over 2010.”
The poll also found that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has more support than any other candidate in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but Hilary Clinton remains the favorite in all three states. Paul, who has already made his position on marijuana known as one of the key sponsors for the CARERS Act, is expected to affix his stance on nationwide medical marijuana reform to his campaign, while experts predict Clinton will ride the rails of the conservative middle. As for Jeb Bush, who ranked behind Clinton in his home state, will have to adjust his years of “hypocrisy” in regard to marijuana and cleverly persuade citizens to forget his longtime advocacy of throwing drug offenders in prison.