The armchair pundits in Washington and New York typically write off these latter two factors as forces destined to aid the president’s reelection campaign. The conventional wisdom is rooted in oversimplified cartoons and caricatures of voter preferences. Essentially, the idea is that the marijuana measure will bring out liberal, Obama-loving hippies, yuppies and crunchies from Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, while the libertarian candidate’s campaign will siphon conservative votes that would otherwise go to Mitt Romney, thus making Johnson the Republican “version of Ralph Nader,” as the New York Times predictably projects. But that kind of hackneyed red-versus-blue story line — so prevalent in the national media echo chamber — ignores how these forces are playing out on the ground.
The marijuana ballot measure, for instance, is defying conventional Democrat/Republican and liberal/conservative narratives, effectively scrambling the political establishments of both parties. In the last month, Colorado’s Democratic Party elite, led by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D), have repositioned themselves as committed drug warriors proudly leading the charge against the ballot measure to end the costly war on weed (this is particularly stunning for Hickenlooper, considering his famous career as a drug pusher ). Meanwhile, former Colorado Republican congressman Tom Tancredo and a group of fellow GOPers made headlines recently when they wholeheartedly endorsed the measure. Put this together with the libertarian streak in Colorado’s Republican politics, and it becomes clear that the pot initiative could boost voting in ways that don’t correspond to traditional red-versus-blue turnout models and stereotypes.
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