Poll: Majority Of Republicans Under 40 Favor Legalizing Marijuana

| by Ethan Brown
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A new study has found that two out of three millennial Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana, further exploiting the unknown future of Republican politics.

In the study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of millennials, or those born since 1981, favored the legalization of the drug.  As the generations get older, the support for legalization shrinks, with Generation X – born between 1965-1980 – supporting 47 percent, the Baby Boomer generation – born between 1946-1964 – supporting 38 percent and the Silent generation – born between 1928-1945 – giving the proposed idea just 17 percent support.

Democrats from all generations greatly exceeded Republicans in their support for legalizing cannabis.  The Silent generation was the only group that voted against legalization – 56 percent – than to support it.  77 percent of Democratic millennials voted for legalization, a big jump from the millennial Republican support.

The Pew researchers explained about the Republican support by stating, “That trend is driven largely by the Millennial generation, who support marijuana at much higher rates than their elders.”

The study also represents the changing political ideologies of the upcoming generations.  More young Republicans are tending to share a more socially liberal view than their Republican elders, especially on the issue of same-sex marriage.

A survey released in March 2014 showed that Republicans supported the legalization of same-sex marriage with 61 percent support from those aged 18-29, or the Millennial group.  That support shrunk to 30 percent for the Baby Boomers and just 22 percent for the Silent generation.  On the Democratic side, all generations overwhelmingly supported legalization; the least support came from the Silent generation, at 62 percent.

One reason for young Republicans supporting these measures, specifically marijuana legalization, is that some states have already recreationally legalized the drug, with no major negative reactions.  Colorado, Alaska, Washington and Oregon voters have already approved these laws.  Voters in the nation’s capital overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization, but is now currently entangled in controversy over the legality of D.C. law and the U.S. Congress.

Marijuana legalization may play an important role in the 2016 presidential election, and other state election for that matter.  Researchers believe that the population of the Millennial generation will be larger than the population of the Baby Boomer generation, the first time in history.  Observers point this fact out as significant in that millennials will now have more influence over state and national politics, like voting for the legalization of marijuana or the legalization of same-sex marriage.  Also, political candidates will have to woo over young voters based on their views on these topics, especially in swing states like Colorado and Florida.

Those two states listed above both saw higher voter turnout rates from Millennials and lower turnout rates for older generation in the last two presidential elections. For example, “Colorado in 2012 saw voters under 29 years of age increase their share of the electorate by 11 percentage points over 2008.” Statistics also showed that for the 2014 midterm elections, Florida millennials increased their share of the voting block by six percent, while elders went down by 10 percent.  This proves significant for many reasons in 2016, one being that Florida will have a question on the ballot for the legalization of medical marijuana, which narrowly lost in 2014.

Sources: Pew Research Center (2), Newsday, Opposing Views, Time / Photo Credit: Manuel, Flickr Creative Commons