After decades near the bottom of Democratic priority list, climate has broken into the top two or three, according to Hart Research, which detailed the findings of a poll conducted of Democratic primary voters in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The poll was conducted for the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDF Action). A memo summarizing the poll can be found here. The poll with toplines can be found here. A slide deck of highlights can be found here.
“Today’s polling demonstrates that voters will demand that the Democratic nominee make climate action a top priority and key pillar of her or his platform,” said John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Taking action on climate has never been this popular because voters across the country know that the threat is real and we have no time to waste.
“As this new polling demonstrates, it’s very much a wide-open Democratic primary that will be decided by an electorate that strongly wants to see bold action on climate at the absolute top of the agenda,” said Pete Maysmith, senior vice president for campaigns at LCV.
“Climate change is now an urgent, top-tier issue for primary voters,” said Joe Bonfiglio, president of EDF Action. “Any candidate who doesn’t make this central to their campaign message is not operating in the new political reality. Without a bold plan for moving us to clean energy, you will not be taken seriously by voters in these early primary states.”
The chief findings of the poll include:
- Addressing the climate crisis is a top-tier issue for Democratic primary voters, shared only with universal health care coverage.
- The Democratic primary for president is wide open, with 77 percent of voters having not yet narrowed their candidate choice.
- Taking action on climate change is a key motivating issue for Democratic primary voters in early states.
- Having a plan to address the climate crisis is seen as essential and is a driver of vote choice.
- Both the Green New Deal and moving to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 are extremely popular ideas among Democratic primary voters in early states.
- Voters believe that candidates who support these solutions to climate change are serious, forward-thinking candidates.
The Green New Deal takes the approach of tying climate policy together with economic renewal, jobs, and justice. In many ways, it is the opposite of the narrow carbon pricing approach, trying to microtarget carbon in a way that can generate bipartisan cooperation. Do you believe all those policies belong together?
We should do what I said we should do in my book: a major industrial transformation to decarbonize the US economy that will result in millions of new jobs and greater prosperity. Unfortunately, no movies were made of my book [laughs], and it didn’t capture people’s imagination in 2007. So no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this approach. I think it’s necessary and suitable to the times. It’s a major reindustrialization of America and we should talk about it in these terms. We need to build things again, all around the country. We’ve got to get communities involved in that. I think the youth movement on this is fantastic.
Have you endorsed the Green New Deal?
Well, I don’t get to vote on it, but I am totally in sync and believe that it is exactly what I have said for decades. I think these aspirational goals are appropriate to the time and the scale. I love the fact that it is embracing economic justice issues as well.
Meet the first Democrat running for president on climate change: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dishes on the Green New Deal, the filibuster, and more.