New Polling Confirms Climate Denier will have Hard Road to Win White House in 2016

As 2014 draws to a close, most people are reflecting on what the New Year will bring. The political junkies among us, however, have skipped ahead to 2016 and the presidential race. And we’ve had plenty of material to parse these last few days. Jeb Bush’s announcement that he will “actively explore” a run exploded on Twitter this week, while Senator Elizabeth Warren’s every move has been tracked by analysts.

This week also offered another insight into presidential politics. A new poll released Thursday shows that a climate denier will have a hard time winning the White House in 2016.

The poll, conducted by Harstad Strategic Research surveyed voters in nine battleground states about their attitudes on climate change and clean energy.

Researchers found that more than two-thirds of likely 2016 voters support the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit climate change pollution from power plants.  That includes 87 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans.

Support was especially strong among voting blocs that will play a big role in electing the next president. A full 70 percent of Latino and African American voters, for instance, favor the EPA’s plan to address climate change. The numbers for women were especially interesting. Sixty-two percent of Independent woman and 59 percent of Republican women want the EPA to rein in the pollution that causes climate change and makes air dirtier and more dangerous to breathe.

If voters want the EPA to tackle climate change pollution, then they won’t want a president to pretend the climate threat doesn’t even exist.

Americans expect leaders to tackle the big problems, not ignore them. Climate change is hitting home, and communities across the nation are paying a price. Whether it is record-breaking drought in California or dangerous flooding in Detroit or devastating fires in Washington State, extreme weather is damaging people’s homes and threatening their health and livelihood. People are looking to elected officials and government agencies to confront this crisis.

Republican leaders should take note. The growing momentum for climate action should inform their choice of 2016 candidates. But it should also make them reconsider their positions right now.

Incoming Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block every effort to reduce climate change pollution, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to continue his course of undermining the EPA whenever possible.

This attack on clean air and climate stability may appeal to polluting industries, but it is not what voters want. The polling released today found that nearly two-thirds of Americans want their US senators to support efforts to address the impacts of climate change on local communities. A full 86 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Republicans agreed.

The Harstad polling—as well as surveys for ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Gallup, and many others –make it clear that voters want leaders to clean up climate change pollution now, and they will bring that desire into the voting booth in 2016. Putting a climate denier on the ticket or spending two years attacking climate action in Congress won’t appeal to this majority of voters, but a champion who makes the air safer to breathe and shields our families from unchecked climate change will.

 

Likely 2016 Voters Want Action on Climate Change

NRDC Action Fund Polling: Key Constituency Support for EPA Clean Power Plan is Strong

WASHINGTON (December 18, 2014) – Today the NRDC Action Fund announced key findings from its first poll conducted with a focus on the attitudes of 2016 voters on climate and clean energy issues. The new poll, following the November 2014 elections, shows that despite millions of dollars in polluter campaign attacks, voter support for climate action has remained steady or increased—including from Republicans, Independents, and other key constituencies.

“A climate denier will have a hard road ahead if he or she wants to win the White House in 2016 because green voters intend to show up,” said Wesley Warren, Policy Advocacy Director for the NRDC Action Fund. “It is obvious in our poll results that 2016 voters want action on climate change. Presidential candidates who argue against taking action are going to be aligning themselves against the majority of voters, including those that are typically key constituencies. In addition, 63 percent of voters want their current U.S. Senators to address the impacts of climate change on their local communities—a warning to Senate leadership that voters will not stand for a Congress that tries to roll back progress on climate action.”

Today’s data follows an NRDC Action Fund poll first conducted in February 2014, in nine states, which showed 67 percent of voters surveyed favored an Environmental Protection Agency plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.

Key findings from today’s release include:

  • Two-thirds of likely 2016 voters favor an EPA plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.
  • Groups of voters who will be important in determining the outcome of the 2016 elections are also highly supportive of the new carbon standards.
    • 85 percent of Democratic Primary Voters
    • 71 percent of younger voters (18-39 years old)
    • 70 percent of Latino/African American voters
    • 62 percent of Independent women
    • 59 percent of Republican women
  • Clear majorities continue to see climate change as a serious problem –far more than dismiss it as a problem.
  • A 2-to-1 majority of 2016 voters prefer investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy over coal, oil, and gas.
  • A large majority of voters want their Senators to address the impacts of climate change.
    • 63 percent of likely 2016 voters
    • 62 percent in red states (AK, AR, LA, NC)
    • 64 percent in blue states (CO, IA, MI, NH, VA)

Andrew Maxfield, Senior Vice-President, Harstad Strategic Research added, “Voters know that there is something wrong with the climate, they can see it, feel it, more with each passing day, and most know something needs to be done.  Likely 2016 voters across many key demographics strongly support limits on dangerous carbon pollution, including 59 percent of Republican women. Addressing climate change is an issue both sides of the aisle will need to address in the next election cycle.”

Polling was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc. from November 18-24, 2014. The survey includes 1,206 voters in nine states. It was paid for by the NRDC Action Fund and NRDC. To view: Polling Results Slide Deck

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The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to grow the environmental majority across America to achieve the passage of legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy, reduces pollution, and sustains vibrant communities for all Americans. Now is the time for leadership and action from our elected officials — our current goal is a comprehensive clean energy policy that will repower our economy and fuel our future. www.nrdcactionfund.org

Note to reporters/editors: The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the NRDC Action Fund engages in various advocacy and political activities for which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, faces certain legal limitations or restrictions. News and information released by the NRDC Action Fund needs to be identified as from the “NRDC Action Fund.” The “Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund” is incorrect. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the NRDC Action Fund can not be used interchangeably. Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

GOP Has No Mandate for Attack on Clean Air and Climate Solutions

Most voters didn’t go the ballot box to demand dirtier air and contaminated water. And yet Republican leaders have proudly proclaimed that gutting environmental safeguards is one of their top priorities for the new Congress. They have vowed to roll back national limits on climate change pollution, strip protections from waterways that feed drinking supplies, and launch a host of other attacks.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says his top priority for the next session is “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”

That’s a bold statement to make when the vast majority of Americans value the EPA’s role in protecting their families from pollution. Seven out of 10 Americans, for instance, support the EPA’s effort to limit climate change pollution from power plants, according to an ABC/Washington Post survey.

The GOP pro-polluter agenda is out of step with what Americans want. Republicans may have gained control of the Senate, but they did not receive a mandate to dismantle environmental safeguards.

Given the dismal voter turnout in the midterms, it’s hard to declare a mandate for anything.

  • 36.2 percent of eligible voters participated in the midterm elections, the lowest turnout since World War II. Even if every single one of them favored the GOP, the party still wouldn’t have the majority of Americans behind them.
  • Several races were settled by small margins. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that Republican Thom Tillis won the North Carolina Senate race by a margin of 1.7 percent—about 48,000 votes.
  • Republicans lost among people under 40 years old and among all minority voters, according to the National Journal.
  • The voting center grew this year: 40 percent of voters identified as moderates, while 36 percent called themselves conservative, down from 42 percent in the 2010 midterms. Fewer voters are calling for the radical changes espoused by the Tea Party.
  • Since the last midterm election, 21 states have enacted more restrictive voting laws, which means fewer people are able to vote and fewer voices are being heard.
  • 69 percent of all dark money—campaign funding from undisclosed donors—went to Republican candidates. The vast majority of it came from the Koch brothers and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads/GPS—polluter friendly groups known for attacking environmental safeguards.  That money means Mitch McConnell may be able to claim the Koch Brothers’ mandate, but certainly not a mandate from the voters.

These numbers paint a picture of a discouraged electorate. Many are tired of the gridlock in Washington; many are overwhelmed by the money in politics. But nowhere in the polling does it say Americans want to breathe dirtier air or get hit by more extreme weather brought on by climate change.

Indeed, exit polling showed that six out of 10 voters leaving the voting booth support the EPA’s effort to limit climate change pollution from power plants.

Republicans won several hard fought races this year, but they would be wise not to let it go to their heads. When candidates won roughly 52 percent of about 36.2 percent of eligible voters, making a declaration of war against the environment sounds like the beginnings of overreach.

Compare those small portions to the 98 percent of scientists who say climate change is a serious threat to our health and wellbeing. Now that’s what I call a mandate for action.

Bruce Braley: Running Clean in the Heartland

“Shut down the federal EPA.” If you are an Iowan who likes dirty air, dirty water and unlimited quantities of harmful pollution, you are in luck. There is a Senate candidate in your home state who you are going to love: Joni Ernst.

Besides proposing to shut down the EPA, Ernst is Dirty Denier$ who has claimed that “global temperature shifts are a result of long-term cyclical patterns rather than the result of man-made activities.” She believes the Clean Water Act is a “business-damaging” law, though Iowans know it is essential for protecting rivers and streams – you know the exact waterbodies that water Iowa’s crops and feed many in our nation. If Ernst had her way, factory farms would be able to release unlimited quantities of nitrates, which can cause cancer and miscarriages, into Iowa’s water supply.

Luckily for Iowa voters, there is another candidate who is Running Clean. Congressman Bruce Braley has been a strong supporter of clean energy, clean water and action on climate change. Braley understands that “climate disruption is real” and that “Reducing our carbon output is not only necessary for the health of the planet, it’s an opportunity to continue to improve the health of the Iowa economy.” Braley has been especially focused on Iowa’s strong wind energy and biofuel industries. He has sponsored legislation to improve worker training in clean energy jobs, to extend wind energy tax credits and to end Big Oil tax breaks in favor of clean energy investment. Braley also understands how important clean water is to our families and Iowa’s agricultural community.

It’s no surprise who the oil billionaire Koch Brothers are supporting in this contest. Americans for Prosperity, which receives substantial funding from the Kochs, spent $688,805 on pro-Ernst television ads between June and mid-September. Ernst credits the Koch brothers, not Iowans with her career in politics.  Don’t believe us?  Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN_8nWS6uNc

Iowa voters need to know the truth about Joni Ernst. She is an extremist when it comes to environmental protection. Mainstream Iowa voters value the land and water that are essential to their way of life. If they want to see those resources protected, they will remember that Bruce Braley is the only candidate who is Running Clean.

Mark Udall: Clean Before Clean was Cool

It looks like 2014 may be the year that politicians and pundits finally catch on to what we’ve been saying for years: Running Clean makes smart political sense and candidates from both parties should be supporting clean energy. But in the Colorado Senate race, there’s one candidate who has been supporting clean energy since before it was cool: Senator Mark Udall. Looking at Udall’s record, it’s clear that he is truly committed to clean because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s politically expedient.

Udall has a strong and consistent record on clean energy, climate change and environmental protection that spans more than a decade as a federal legislator. Udall has been a champion for renewable energy, serving as the lead sponsor of House bills to create a national renewable electricity standard, co-chairing the 2004 effort to create a state renewable energy standard (RES) through referendum in Colorado and currently co-chairing the Senate Renewable Energy and Efficiency Caucus. Udall has led efforts to create wilderness in Colorado, to provide tax incentives for clean energy, to improve air and water quality, and to improve national security by reducing the military’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Udall’s opponent, Congressman Cory Gardner, is trying to reap the benefits of voters’ support for clean energy without actually supporting clean energy. Gardner filmed one of his ads in the middle of a wind farm and claimed that he “co-wrote the law to launch our state’s green energy industry.” Unfortunately for Gardner, that law was repealed five years later and wasn’t credited with creating a single clean energy job.

The truth is that Gardner is a #DirtyDenier$.  He has denied the human contribution to climate change, he has voted to deny EPA’s scientific finding that carbon pollution is a threat to human health, and he has repeatedly voted to protect taxpayer subsidies for oil companies while voting to eliminate them for clean energy pioneers. He’s also voted against just about anything else that might improve the environment from ocean health to clean water to clean air.

With that record, it should come as no surprise that the oil and gas industry are the largest contributors to his campaign’s bank account. In just four years in Congress, Gardner has raised $695,000 from the oil and gas industry and the oil billionaire Koch Brothers are showing their appreciation for his dirty voting record by investing millions in their own advertising campaigns designed to prop up Gardner.

When Colorado voters go to the polls in November, they’d be wise to remember which candidate’s record matches his rhetoric. There’s only one clean candidate in this race, and that’s incumbent senator Mark Udall.

Want more election coverage? Visit www.nrdcactionfund.org for weekly updates on key races featuring environmental champions.