Newsletter: Democrats should be embracing pot…and an early look at the Ohio Senate race

| pppadmin

Dear Friends,

I hope you are enjoying the first 10 successful weeks of the Biden administration as much as I am! I find that sometimes entire days pass, maybe even two or three days, without even having to think about what the President’s up to because of the overarching knowledge that he’s working hard and doing the job right. What a pleasant change!

I wanted to share with you a couple interesting polls we’ve done recently. The first one really shows the extent to which Democrats at all levels should just drop any moderation on the issue and fully embrace marijuana legalization. We did a poll in Florida for Florida for Care and found that 59% of voters in the state support full legalization of marijuana to only 31% who oppose it.

Florida has of course been moving to the right over the last few Presidential elections but the state nevertheless strongly supports marijuana legalization. And what’s interesting is that although it does play out as a partisan issue to some extent, it’s even more of a generational issue. While Democrats over 65 only support legalizing marijuana 44/42, Republicans under 45 support legalizing it 51/36. Overall voters under 45 support full legalization 74/18. The only other issue where we can remember these kinds of generational splits that in some cases trumped party splits was gay marriage.

Younger voters generally are not identifying with either party because they think they’re both lame. Clearly differentiating themselves from Republicans across the board on this issue that has overwhelming support from younger voters could help Democrats at least a little bit on that front.

We recently did an Ohio Senate poll for our friends at 314 Action and honestly we expected it to find that Democrats had no chance next year given recent election results in the state. But the one way Democrats could have a path to victory is if they nominated a really strong candidate and the Republicans had a really nasty primary in which their nominee emerged badly wounded for the general. And our poll found that race’s baseline conditions are such that there’s a chance that could happen.

The really strong Democratic candidate would be Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health who led the state’s overwhelmingly popular COVID response. She has a +19 net favorability rating, with 44% of voters viewing her positively to 25% with a negative opinion. It’s pretty rare to find a public figure that far above water in these polarizing times.

None of the leading Republican hopefuls for the seat are particularly well known or liked. Josh Mandel, who Sherrod Brown dispensed with in 2012 and who then bailed on a rematch in 2018 when he realized the outcome would be the same again, has a 26/35 favorability rating. Jane Timken, who seems obsessed with renaming the not very appealing sounding Mosquito Lake State Park to the even less appealing Donald Trump State Park, has a 17/19 favorability rating. And it turns out Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance starts out with only slightly more name recognition than a random name tested out of the phone book, coming in at 9/19 (random name out of the phone book usually comes in at about 5/13.)

So Acton has a net favorability 21-29 points better than the leading Republican hopefuls. But despite that she ties Timken at 40 and leads Mandel and Vance just 42-41 and 40-38 respectively. That’s a reminder that for Democrats to win in Ohio their candidate has to be far, far more popular than who the Republicans put up and even then it’s a challenge. But our poll suggests there might at least be a path, especially if all the voters the defeated President brought out are less interested in a midterm where he’s not on the ballot.

I hope all of your efforts are going well and if there’s anything we can help you with- whether it’s polling on legislation in Washington or in state capitals, getting an early look at the 2022 electoral landscape, or checking in on the important races coming up more quickly in 2021 we’d love to help you out and can be reached at information@publicpolicypolling.com or 888-621-6988.

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