Voters: Economy Too Tough for Middle Class; Medical Marijuana Should Be Legalized

Results Part of New George Washington University Battleground Poll

Mar 25, 2014, 10:00 ET from George Washington University

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans continue to hold pessimistic views about the health of the economy and the overall direction of the nation, shows a new George Washington University Battleground Poll of likely voters. The poll, conducted in partnership with The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, also showed strong public support for changing marijuana laws. The issues could drive turnout in an election where both Democratic and Republican parties face electoral challenges. 

Seventy percent of voters say the economy makes it too tough for the middle class to make ends meet. Assistance programs for the poor and tax breaks for the wealthy mean that the middle class has the toughest time in the country's economic system, according to 72 percent of respondents. This pessimism extends to their thoughts about the future as well: 76 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the assertion that the next generation will be better off economically than they are now. More broadly, 64 percent say the nation is on the wrong track, which is a nine-point decrease from a November 2013 poll.

"As we head into the 2014 midterm congressional elections, voters are in a sour mood," said GW Professor Christopher Arterton, the poll's director.  "The long, hard, slow recovery from the economic downturn of 2008 should make voter discouragement a palpable concern for incumbents of both parties, particularly for Democrats given the continuing low levels of approval in Obama's job performance."

On the electoral front, one thing is clear: Americans continue to become more open to proposals to change marijuana laws. Plans to legalize medical marijuana enjoy a 73 percent approval rating and decriminalizing possession of the drug has a 53 percent approval rating.

Marijuana ballot initiatives look like potential turnout drivers as well. Thirty-nine percent of surveyed voters reported that they would be much more likely to turn out to the polls if there was a proposal to legalize the use of marijuana on the ticket. An additional 30 percent said that they would be somewhat more likely to vote in the election under that circumstance.

For complete results, including information about the Affordable Care Act, potential 2016 contenders, and additional numbers on the economy and President Obama, visit:

SOURCE George Washington University