Is Climate a New Political Stealth Super Weapon?

September 9, 2012

There is some indication that the democratic inner circle, and even the mainstream media, might be getting it that climate is not only a safe issue to bring up, advantageous in attracting independent and suburban voters, but actually might be a stealth secret super weapon – in that politicians who pander to Climate Deniers, mostly in the GOP, have now destroyed their own ability to walk back on the issue, – and if they somehow were to do that, it would eat away at their own shaky base of support among the dittohead teahadists who now dominate the once great party.

The spectacular collapse of the arctic ice, coming on the heels of historic heartland heatwave and drought, may be setting the table for the re-emergence of climate as a critical component in this fall’s race.

A. Siegel in the Huffington Post:

An item of note: those at the convention gave the climate change paragraph among the most positive reaction given to any part of the speech.

And, even more astounding, the “Village” seems to have noticed.

    • Politico rated the speech’s “best lines” and this was #5 of 15 — and #2 in terms of policy-related quotations.
    • MSNBC rated applause lines — “And, in this election, you can do something it” was #6 with 17.2 seconds of applause.

At the presidential and congressional levels, 2012 is truly an election about science. Science is truly a differentiator between the parties — with climate science being the most extreme example of this.  And on this, the American public (and America’s scientists) are not sympathetic to the Republican Party.

Climate change is an issue that lends itself to coherent discussion.

And climate change is a winning political issue.

The Obama-Biden campaign seems to be waking to the power of climate as an issue.

Christian Science Monitor:

In TampaMitt Romney threw down the gauntlet to Barack Obama, for whom global warming – and the consequent sea level rise – has been a signature issue since he promised in 2008 to do something about it as president.

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” Mr. Romney told GOP delegates in Tampa, a smile on his face. “My promise [long pause – audience laughter] is to help you and your family.”

But that laugh line appears to have been just too much for Mr. Obama, who is fighting for support in a neck-and-neck campaign where the economy – not climate change – is the front and center issue. So he let fly.

“Yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax,” the president shouted to delegates in Charlotte, N.C. “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.”

That high-profile statement, political analysts say, may have marked a major turnabout for the president, who has scarcely mentioned global warming – or the more scientific designation of “climate change” – in recent months.


“My guess is that Obama, who is an incredibly competitive guy, was just annoyed at mockery and laughter and wanted to respond personally,” Mr. Romm says. “But I also think that he’s been trying to think about how to inject climate into the debate. Romney gave him an opening to do just that.”

But there are also indications that Obama, scratching for support among independent voters inOhioIowa, and other swing states, may have been warming to the idea of once again more publicly embracing climate change.


…what if climate change turned out to be a good issue – not a boat anchor? That’s exactly what public opinion researchers at George Mason, Yale, and Stanford universities have been finding in national polls last year and this year.

In a nonpartisan national poll released by George Mason and Yale in March, 72 percent of Americans surveyed said global warming should be a very high (12 percent), high (28 percent), or medium (32 percent) priority for the president and Congress. Among registered voters, 84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Republicans said global warming should be a priority.

What those and other numbers mean, says the man who analyzed them, is that Obama and other Democratic candidates, instead of paying a political penalty for hitting global warming as an issue on the campaign trail – actually benefit.

“Our polling shows that in swing states, Democratic candidates who take a pro-climate-action stance will find it to be a vote winner for them,” says Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Virginia, who produced the poll. “The extra votes will come from independents.”

Unfortunately for Romney, even if he were to win support among independents by raising global warming as a problem to deal with, it would weaken support among his conservative base, researchers say.

“Independents respond to climate change as an issue much more like Democrats than Republicans,” he says. “But for a Republican candidate, taking a pro-climate action station in a general election campaign is neutral impact – winning independent votes, but losing some conservative support.”

22 Responses to “Is Climate a New Political Stealth Super Weapon?”

  1. So we are reduced to choosing handy campaign issues based on applause. If only the Democrats knew the right one to choose, they could win, win, win!!

    Over the past thirty years, the voting public has no idea what the Democratic party stands for – because the Democratic party doesn’t have a clue itself.

    It can’t demonstrate political courage because political courage is based on commitment to principle, and the Democratic party has become a party of lukewarm adherents to policy not principles. And far too often, that adherence to pragmatic policy means that they won’t even take on what used to be a bedrock issue if the polling looks pessimistic.

    They are political cowards and it shows. Global warming should be a slam dunk issue pursued with righteous moral passion. Instead, they are comparing applause meters.

  2. Obama can’t have it both ways. Right now he’s supporting oil and gas interests with the Keystone pipeline, expanded arctic drilling, and natural gas fracking. So he can make campaign points, if we let him, by saying lots of nice things about healing the planet without changing any of those policies.

    Using weight loss as a metaphor, we know that we can’t lose weight just by exercising if we’re stuffing on fast food all the time. We can’t heal the climate, no matter what we do, if we’re stuffing ourselves on fossil fuels.

    Things have gotten so bad so much faster than even the pessimists expected that it’s fair to say that Obama’s second term is our last chance to put on the brakes. We’re already told that +2 deg won’t hold. I have enough idealistic belief left to think that Obama has not been briefed on just how bad it will be. Scientists tend to be conservative in public and scared in private. That has to change.

  3. Alteredstory Says:

    While I agree with you to an extent, the GOP is the same way. They TALK consistently, but they have never actually acted on their espoused values. They expand government, they cheat on their spouses, and so on.

    It’s a problem, though, and I wish Obama would use what power he DOES have to actually push this issue.

  4. omnologos Says:

    The George Mason poll says 88% of voters would be classified as “deniers” on this site.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Yesterday you were claiming 75%. What a difference a day makes.
      Do encourage these voters to drop by so we can judge for ourselves.

      In the meantime, we’re very well aware which visitors easily make the short list for denier status.

      • omnologos Says:

        Am sorry Morin to hear about your lack of familiarity with numbers (and polls).

        Anyways…if 88 out of 100 voters say climate change doesn’t have to be a very high priority, well, it’s not non-voting commenters of this blog you should be worried about.

        Unless you yourself agree that there are more important priorities? Would you believe it, we’d agree on that point, even if it undermines all that Peter stands for.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          I’m very, very familiar with polls, which is why I know how misleading they can be.

          And what is the definition of “high priority” in the mind of Joe Average?
          Mortgage due? Need bathroom now? Gunshot wound?

          Also, your percentage claims are meaningless unless you define exactly what is a climate denier.

          Don’t weasel out by saying everyone knows what that means – we expect nothing less than a clear definition from you, unless that is logically impossible.

          • omnologos Says:

            I wasn’t the one trying to make a point about polls and their figures. Everybody obviously knows that different questions will get different percentages, etc etc. That’s why your comment was surprising.

            Anyway I shall make the point explicit: take a person convinced that climate catastrophes are going to befall upon us unless we curtail emissions right now and with the highest possible priority. What has this person to do with those that treat the issue “only” as a high-priority one?

            Unfortunately, the attitude here (and elsewhere) seems to build up the paradox that everyone that doesn’t give a very high priority to fighting climate change by way of mitigation, is automatically a denier. Including, apparently, those that give it “only” a high priority, without the “very”. Hence the 88%.

            It’s an exclusivist way of thinking that is very obviously ineffective at best, and whose roots I’d be fascinated to understand.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            Understand this – most people are easily led and that’s why strong, moral leaders are so important.
            If Obama had forged ahead with the agenda he promised instead of stopping to play political footsie with a bunch of obstructionist clowns who’d never compromise, US action on climate change / global warming / AGW / CAGW or whichever name or acronym you deem logically impossible would be a moot point.

            Look what happened, or didn’t happen, when, after being put on the hot seat by Joe Biden, he finally spoke out in favor of gay marriage – the world didn’t end and the White House wasn’t stormed by anti-gay forces exercising their precious 2nd amendment rights.

            If the US has led the way on action against climate change, the whole world would have shut up and followed suit.
            It wasn’t so long ago that this had bipartisan support in Congress, even with the oil-slicked Bush administration.

            And don’t put words in Peter’s or our mouths; we are very specific on who gets called a denier.
            It’s not the huddled masses – if Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Perry announced tomorrow that climate change was real, even without presenting a single supporting fact, even if it was in the middle of the worst blizzard in a century, the GOP faithful would immediately change their tune.

          • otter17 Says:

            Seems like a straw man line of argument.

  5. petersjazz Says:

    I guess it would be difficult for Romney to change the mind on climate change in another way. He would look stupid turning around 180 degrees.

  6. librarylu Says:

    Some people seem to think in terms of the Government prying their cold dead fingers from their steering wheels, forcing them to buy squiggly light bulbs and hoaxing the whole thing just to control people.

    They vote.

  7. […] 2012/09/09: PSinclair: Is Climate a New Political Stealth Super Weapon? […]

  8. kanspaugh Says:

    The CSM says that Romney’s laugh line about climate change was “just too much for Obama” so “he let fly” in his acceptance speech. Well, maybe. Check out the Democracy Now report from Thurs on how a group of Dems with deep pockets threatened to withdraw their contributions to Obama’s campaign unless he did respond to Romney’s sneer at climate action. Hard to say how much that pressure contributed to Obama’s remark.

  9. […] Climate Change is now part of the electoral conversation – and polls show the candidate who has takes the issue seriously and will deal with it can get more support from the important independent voters. […]

  10. […] Climate Change is now part of the electoral conversation — and polls show the candidate who has takes the issue seriously and will deal with it can get more support from the important independent voters. […]

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