Many political commentators declared President Obama’s State of the Union address to be the start of the 2012 campaign for his reelection. They said it was a speech designed to stir the enthusiasm of the base and draw sharp contrasts with his Republican opponents. If that’s true, what lessons can we draw from the President’s discussion of clean energy?
Democracy Corps conducted real-time polling of the speech. Here’s what they found:
President Obama generated a strong response when discussing energy. This section received the highest sustained ratings of the speech from Democrats and independents, but it was also one of the few polarizing sections as Republicans reacted negatively to the President’s call for more support of clean energy (independents, like Democrats, responded very favorably). Overall, Obama gained 22 points on the issue, one of his biggest gains on the evening, as these voters endorsed his appeal to end subsidies for oil companies and instead focus those resources on expanding clean energy in America.
The President seems to understand what Grist’s Dave Roberts points out: that clean energy is a wedge issue. While the Tea Party Republicans who live in a reality-free world may not support clean energy, pretty much everyone else does. Not just Democrats. Those crucial, swinging independent voters who are likely to decide the election in November just happen to like clean energy jobs for hardworking Americans…and to oppose tax breaks for bazillionaire oil company CEOs. That puts those independent voters squarely at odds with the “drill, baby, drill” ranks of the Republican presidential candidates.
So, here’s a tip for all the candidates who will be on the ballot in November. Whether you are running for city council or running for Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, it’s time to get on the clean energy train. It is headed for victory.