Based on recent polling, the political climate in New Jersey is tough to predict. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is running for reelection in 2018, but his lead over Republican competitor Bob Hugin is slipping. According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University, the GOP candidate is closing in within single digits. The same poll showed Menendez ahead by 17 points just four weeks back.
Menendez ran into legal trouble in late 2017 but was saved when a federal judge, at the request of the DOJ, dismissed corruption charges against him.
But while voters are revoking their support for the Democratic candidate, they appear to support some of the Democratic Party’s platform, most notably recreational marijuana.
The same poll revealed a whopping 62 percent of New Jersey voters said they were in favor of allowing adult residents to legally own and use marijuana recreationally. This number includes an overwhelming majority — 90 percent — of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34.
Indicating a rise in liberal drug policy acceptance, 63 percent of those surveyed last week said they would agree to erase past convictions of all those found guilty of marijuana possession-related offenses. And 50 percent of respondents said they were in favor of legalizing marijuana sales.
The results from this poll indicate that voters consider policy proposals independently of their political affiliation and consider individual candidates just the same. It is not enough for a candidate to run on his party platform and expect registered partisans to vote blindly.
In perhaps a message both to Republicans and Democrats, the voters of New Jersey want customized policy, perhaps suggesting more bipartisan bills would be appreciated. It’s something for the state and federal legislature to consider.