How Cannabis Could Decide Who Wins This Year’s Presidential Election And Who Controls The Senate
This year’s election is unlike anything else. Apart from voting in a historic year fraught with an ongoing pandemic, a battered economy, and a social equality undercurrent that is stronger than it has ever been, voters will have to decide how we want to move forward from here, selecting the leader they believe will help our country recover and reach new heights. Nearly 60 million Americans have already cast their general election ballots, and one key but undermentioned topic, in particular, could ultimately tip the scales in the Democrats’ favor: cannabis.
Ballot measures in five states—Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota—on whether to legalize the medical or adult recreational use of cannabis could have a big impact on federal, state and local elections already underway by boosting turnout of young voters who tend to lean Democratic. In particular, Arizona and Montana—with a combined 14 Electoral College votes—are considered swing states that could go either way in this year’s presidential election. And with these legalization measures being up for ballot, a big turnout in the polls is expected within these states.
The Democratic Party in recent years has been appealing more to proponents of cannabis legalization, especially younger voters. One in 10 eligible voters this year is a part of Generation Z, and this group is anticipated to use cannabis twice as much as the average American.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of this generation disapprove of how President Trump is handling his job, and the group is expected to exceed voter turnout expectations to voice their political, social, and economic views at the ballot. Having more of those voters at the polls will definitely tip the scales in the Democrats’ favor, especially in key swing states like Arizona.
But cannabis is not only playing an important role in the presidential race, but also, just as importantly, in the Senate race, as well. With 35 seats up for re-election, the Senate race is equally crucial for many Americans to pay attention to, because several key areas of legislation, such as healthcare, cannabis legalization, immigration and climate change, can be decided upon depending on whether the Republicans retain control of the chamber or the Democrats happen to flip it.
As I mentioned in my recent op-ed on Fox News, cannabis-driven voter turnout is not only helping Democrats’ in states that have legalization ballot initiatives this year, but also in states that have already legalized cannabis, such as Colorado.
Pro-cannabis Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is trailing in the polls to former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for not having been able to help advance pro-cannabis legislation, despite promises of support from the Trump administration that never materialized. Hickenlooper has criticized Gardner for failing to advance pro-cannabis legislation in Congress, and will likely beat Gardner, which is ironic considering Hickenlooper was formerly an opponent of cannabis legalization. Even if the Senate finally steps up to support Gardner with a last minute passage of the SAFE Banking Act, it may still be too late as millions of early ballots have already been cast.
The net result of all this could likely be that cannabis will play a deciding role in not only which party wins the Senate seats, but also the Presidency as well. Republicans could make a last-ditch effort to show extra support for cannabis and its proponents, like Gardner, which could be crucial in terms of the overall election to drawing voter support away from the Democrats. But as of right now, it looks like the Democrats are the party that is leveraging cannabis legalization more effectively, making a Senate flip and Biden Presidency a strong possibility rather than a outside chance.