Marijuana: Could Amendment 64's success hurt Barack Obama in Colorado?
The presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will likely be very tight in Colorado, a key swing state -- and a close vote is also expected for Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. But could a big turnout for the latter undermine Obama in the state? This theory is being floated by at least one major political website, and proponent Mason Tvert thinks one race could wind up impacting the other.
Yesterday, Talking Points Memo published an item entitled "Poll: Colorado Pot Amendment Could Pass -- and Hurt Obama."
The item notes a recent poll showing that 47 percent of likely voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling supported Amendment 64, a one point uptick from the previous report, while opposition dropped from 42 percent to 38 percent.
Enthusiasm for 64 could prompt more young people to show up at the polls this November, TPM surmises -- but given that the Obama administration has been tougher on marijuana than many anticipated, such voters might not automatically cast their ballot for the president. Instead, a sizable number could line up for Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and running mate Judge Jim Gray, who are presently polling at around 6 percent in Colorado, according to the site. And since these votes would mainly come at Obama's expense, Romney is the probable beneficiary.
Johnson, by the way, is the candidate most associated with marijuana reform -- and he traveled to Colorado in February specifically to express his support for Amendment 64, as he told us in the post linked here.
Gray is expected to formally endorse Amendment 64 as well. Indeed, he was originally slated to do so at 11:45 a.m. today at the City and County Building in Denver, but that event has been postponed. Instead, Gray will take part in a meet-and-greet at 6:45 p.m. tonight at Chopper's Sports Grill.
Given Johnson's endorsement of Amendment 64, why doesn't the campaign return the favor? Tvert says he's not sure that's possible under current election law, and even if it is, "we're focused on passing our initiative. So we have no position on a presidential candidate. We're not supporting or opposing any of them. We have our eyes on our race."
At the same time, Tvert notes that the decision to push the Regulate act in 2012 has a presidential component.
"We know turnout is far greater in presidential election years than it is in off years," he says, "and we do expect that will benefit our initiative. Typically, the more people who vote, the more support that's expressed for ending marijuana prohibition."
Page down for more about Amendment 64's possible impact on the presidential race.