As Democrats look for ways to retake the House and Senate from Republicans this fall, many have wondered whether embracing marijuana could help. Well based off a recent election in Pennsylvania, the answer is yes.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania held a special election for a congressional seat that was vacated after the Republican in office resigned due to revelations related to an extramarital affair. In the special election, Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Republican Rick Saccone to take the seat. This was particularly noteworthy because the Republican who had previously held the seat had run unopposed in the previous two elections, and President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the district by 20 points in 2016. So this was a huge shift from Republicans to Democrats in this election.
One of the issues where Lamb and Saccone differed was medical marijuana. Saccone had voted against Pennsylvania legalizing medicinal cannabis while serving in the state legislature, while Lamb made medical marijuana part of his platform. In fact, the issue was made even clearer when Saccone, unprompted, boasted about voting against Pennsylvania's current medical marijuana laws when asked whether Congress should legalize the drug recreationally, and Lamb responded by making an impassioned defense of medicinal cannabis.
Considering polls have shown as much as 88 percent of Pennsylvania voters support medical marijuana, it's definitely easy to believe the issue could've swung votes Lamb's way. And considering the race was won by only 627 votes, any issue where Lamb could appeal to voters outside the Democratic base definitely helped.
Of course, it would be silly to say marijuana was the only factor. Lamb promoted several other progressive causes that appeal to Pennsylvania voters, such as health care and stronger unions. And then there's obvious anti-Republican sentiment related to President Trump's unpopularity.
But when someone wins an election by such a small margin, every issue matters. And that's something Democrats need to think about this fall.