After four years with a Republican president at the helm, the Democratic Party’s Joe Biden was elected as the 46th president of the United States. Despite clinching the top seat, however, the Democrats suffered significant congressional and state election losses, losing ground in the Senate and barely holding on to the House majority. According to a slew of new surveys, Election Day could have gone much better for the party had it been more progressive in its thinking.
A survey of 1,375 likely voters in 13 districts where the Democrats either underperformed or lost concluded that they would have been swayed toward the left had it embraced more progressive policies. The survey, conducted by Data for Progress, Justice Democrats, New Deal Strategies, and Sunrise Movement, found that progressive policies such as legalizing cannabis, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and passing broad coronavirus relief packages were popular among voters in swing districts.
An estimated 57% of the respondents in the swing districts — representing 71% of Democrats, 63% of independents, and 38% of the Republicans — said they support legalizing cannabis for adult use. The group found that independent voters, who could be the determining votes in tight races, were especially drawn to broad marijuana legalization legislation. And although only one-third of the Republican voters supported legalizing cannabis, the groups say the figures are quite telling.
Some centrist members of the party have argued against moving too far left on certain issues, insisting that it could affect the outcome of the election. They insist that passing a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on a federal level before coronavirus relief would be “bad optics,” especially before their re-election campaigns. Additionally, President-elect Joe Biden is only in favor of modest cannabis policy reforms, such as decriminalizing possession of small amounts and expunging prior cannabis convictions, rather than broad legalization legislation.
However, according to the data collected in the survey, Democrats may be going about it all wrong. Voters in five states, some of them traditionally conservative, approved cannabis legalization in the November ballot, and quite recently, the House of Representatives voted to federally decriminalize cannabis. A Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans support legalizing cannabis while a recent poll by Morning Consult-Politico found that cannabis reform policy has major support across different political ideologies, including 51% of the Democrats.
By embracing more progressive policies such as cannabis legalization, coronavirus relief, and a higher minimum wage, the Democrats may have been able to generate greater support in the November ballot, the groups say. Integrating these progressive policies into their policy agenda could ensure the party gets significant support across all political ideologies.
In states where cannabis has already been legalized, consumer interest confirms the popularity of marijuana policy reform. For instance, Gage Cannabis Co., headed by Bruce Linton, established itself on the Michigan cannabis scene and is quickly distinguishing itself as one of the most formidable brands in the state’s cannabis industry.
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