Voters in Ohio just defeated a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana. Some are saying it was only because the sellers would have formed a monopoly, and that the vote was against this monopolistic aspect.
Doubtful -- libertarian politics are only popular out West, where the four states with legalized pot are located (Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska). Not surprisingly the West is also the capital of porn production and prostitution (L.A. and Vegas), and of gambling (Vegas again).
This geographic split is no different from 150 years ago when the Wild West was host to more saloons and brothels than you could shake a stick at. And not just the southern swath from Texas to California, where hotter temperatures could have been blamed. In fact, two of the most notorious sin cities of the Gilded Age were Butte, Montana and Tacoma, Washington.
The main underlying difference between the frontier states and the historical core states is the degree of rootedness. That suggests that the same kind of impulsive and footloose preference in their living patterns would also be expressed as a do-what-you-feel attitude in other domains of life.
Does this relationship still hold today? The General Social Survey asks respondents where they lived age at 16, and where they live now, at the regional level. So we can figure out who are transplants and who are natives to their region at the time of the survey. They also ask if you think pornography should be illegal for everyone (not just minors), as well as if you think marijuana should be legal.
I restricted respondents to whites (to control for race), and to people aged 30-49, when they're in their prime family-forming years and would be most worried about porn and pot corrupting their children's lives.
Sure enough, transplants are more laissez-faire. The effect is a little stronger among women, perhaps because women's moral grounding is somewhat more dependent on contact with family, while for men it is relatively less dependent on which community's welfare they're thinking of.
On the porn issue, among men, transplants are about 2 percentage points less in favor of criminalizing porn altogether, and about 2 percentage points more in favor of legalizing it even to consumers under 18. Among women, transplants are about 5 percentage points less in favor of total criminalization, and about 2 percentage points more in favor of legalizing it to minors.
As for pot, transplant men are 4 percentage points more in favor of legalizing it, while transplant women are 5 percentage points more in favor.
These results don't really change if you move around the age window, if you look only at married people, married with children, liberals, conservatives, etc. Being a transplant in itself is associated with supporting more libertine social policies. If you don't want to be tied down by roots, you probably don't want to be tied down by moral rules either. Boo regulation -- go wherever and do whatever!
Note: search this blog for "regtrans" to see all other posts addressing the differences between natives and transplants.
GSS variables: pornlaw, grass, regtrans (formed from reg16 and region), race, age, sex, marital, childs, polviews