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.
That being said, several have argued that this could be the year for pro-marijuana turnout. After all, 2011 was the first year more young people smoked pot than cigarettes, the CDC says. There is a marijuana initiative on the ballot in Washington, and there might be one in Nebraska and Massachusetts, but those states are pretty solid for one party or the other. Here's our guide to whether pot politics could make an impact in the swing states considering new marijuana rules:
Initiative: Amendment 64 would make it legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or six plants for cultivating. The state has allowed medical marijuana since 2000. Pro-legalization groups have raised $2 million to campaign for the amendment, the Denver Post reports.
Chances of passage: In December, the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found that 49 percent of voters supported the amendment. But this month, the right-leaning Rasmussen found that 61 percent of likely Colorado voters support it.
Chances it'll affect Obama's standing in the state: The president is averaging a very slim lead in the state, less than 2 percentage points over Mitt Romney. The Associated Press points out that though a marijuana measure failed in 2006, that year Coloradans elected a Democratic governor after eight years of Republican rule.
Initiative: Supporters are collecting the 400,000 signatures required to get two amendments on the ballot: the Medical Cannabis Amendment and the Alternative Treatment Amendment. The first would allow medical marijuana, the second would set up a commission to regulate it. They were approved by the state attorney general several months ago, and the signature deadline is July 4.