ShutDown Over Climate? Why, Yes Please.

June 24, 2014

Bloomberg View:

The Obama administration is getting a good deal of mileage out of the president’s commencement speech (last week) at the University of California, Irvine, during which he compared deniers of climate science in Congress to those who might have argued, during the race to the moon 50 years ago, that the nation’s celestial obsession was made of cheese.

It was a cheap laugh line, but the speech itself — which clearly resonated with the thousands of twenty-something voters assembled at Angel Stadium in Anaheim — underscored what a growing number of surveys and political strategists now make clear: Ignoring the issue of climate change is no longer a viable political strategy, and the GOP risks its fortunes in 2016 and beyond by keeping its collective head in the sand.

Consider just one analysis published earlier this month from left-leaning Public Policy Polling. It asked voters if they would “be willing to support a candidate for President in 2016 who did not believe that global warming was being caused by human activity?” Forty-six percent said no, while only 38 percent said yes.

This is in keeping with findings from the Pew Research Center, which suggest that even though many self-identifying Republicans feel the science is unsettled, a majority — 52 percent — nonetheless support addressing climate change with stricter limits on power-plant emissions. A full 67 percent of independent voters also said they support such limits — a sobering statistic if you’re a GOP candidate looking to run a deregulation platform.

Critics might be quick to dismiss some of these findings as products of left-leaning research organizations, but GOP pollsters also argue that Republicans deny and avoid the changing climate at their peril. This includes Alex Lundry, a vice president with conservative polling firmTarget Point Consulting, who recently acknowledged in the Daily Caller that “current headlines and recent polling confirm climate change’s importance to a broad, bipartisan array of voters.”

How Republican candidates choose to engage on the topic, he continued, “will likely influence election outcomes in the near term, not just the distant future.”

As the Bloomberg piece mentions, even Tucker Carlson’s normally delusional Daily Caller sounds a cautionary note. (not that they’ve given up on climate denial themselves)

Daily Caller:

Current headlines and recent polling confirm climate change’s importance to a broad, bipartisan array of voters. And how Republicans choose to engage on this issue will likely influence election outcomes in the near term, not just the distant future.

This is a powerful issue. Look no further than the critical media attention given to presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio for allegedly denying climate change’s existence, or to the widespread praise showered on Senator Kelly Ayotte for her support of an energy conservation bill. Clearly, voters are looking for solutions to this – one of our country’s most seemingly intractable problems.

We can only expect the debate to intensify as we rapidly approach the 2016 presidential election. Republicans must find a way to address the issue in a way that doesn’t alienate our base, but that also resonates with Americans of all political leanings, who look for practical, politically achievable solutions to a difficult problem.



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