Tuesday was definitely a great day for drug policy reform. With cannabis outperforming most of the candidates, it may even start to sink in with more politicians that opposing drug policy reform is bad politics and not worth the “contributions” from prohibition interest groups.
Conventional wisdom was that reform was unlikely to be successful at a mid-term election (and that was true relatively recently). That’s because the historical population that supported reform also tended to be less politically engaged (young people, etc.) and turnout is lower at the mid-terms.
Yet it’s clear that reform has gone mainstream.
With that shift, it was interesting to see the new dynamic of the voter on marijuana ballots, and this useful page of exit polls from CNN provides some illumination.
Oregon Ballot Measure Results (click on Exit Polls)
So where were the votes for marijuana in Oregon?
Overall, men and women were roughly the same. Young people were slightly more likely to vote for the measure. Educated people were more likely to vote Yes. Urban did better than rural. Poor people were slightly more likely to vote for the measure than rich people, but the differences were minor.
So I started to look at where the numbers get radical…
- Only 20% of those who self-identified as Republican voted Yes, compared to 77% of Democrats.
- Only 20% of those who are enthusiastic/satisfied with GOP leadership voted Yes, and only 35% of those who are angry at the Obama Administration voted Yes (as opposed to those merely dissatisfied with Obama, who voted Yes at 51%)
- 33% of those who attend religious services weekly voted yes, compared to 57% of those who attend occasionally and 72% of those who attend never
- 26% of those who think that same-sex marriages should not be legal voted Yes, compared to 75% of those who think it should be legal
Now, what’s true in Oregon may not be true elsewhere, but this does remind us that there is still a strong core of social-religious conservatives who see marijuana/drugs as a key element in their culture war. These aren’t the Rand Paul Republicans, but they do make up a good portion of the Republican constituency.
In Florida, for medical marijuana, and in Alaska for legalization, many of the same factors showed up, but they were a little less extreme.