Florida Waking Up to Climate Change is Bad News for Trump
July 8, 2016
Climate change hard to deny when it’s sloshing up around your ankles.
Problem for climate deniers like Donald Trump in the key electoral state of Florida. There is effectively no path to the White House for Republicans that does not include a win in this state.
Miami Beach is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities to sea floods, but much of Florida’s coastline is facing similar problems. The Everglades wetlands is at risk from invading seawater and the Florida Keys are regularly flooded at extreme high tides.
Nasa is facing floods from Atlantic storms at the Kennedy Space Centre and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. But the most urgent threat is to drinking water as saltwater, and the pollution it flushes out, invades underground, and is now moving close to drinking water supplies for 6 million residents.
So it’s no surprise that 81% of people in Florida polled recently said they believe that climate change is happening now – an increase on the 63% in 2012. And yet climate change has been drowned out in the US presidential primary elections – apart from political debates in Miami.
If demographics are destiny, Donald Trump’s political fate could very well be sealed in Florida.
The big demographic threat to the Republican Party isn’t a “blue” Texas or Arizona or Georgia, but the possibility that Florida will follow Nevada and New Mexico to the left. It’s extremely hard for a Republican to win the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
The polls suggest that Hillary Clinton might capitalize on huge demographic shifts to an extent that Barack Obama never did. She might even lead by the same margin in Florida that she does nationally — about five percentage points — even though the state has been more Republican than the country in every presidential election since 1976.
Start here: Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election between 1992 and 2012. Add them up, and you get 242 electoral votes.
By contrast, 13 states have voted for the Republican presidential nominee in each of the past six elections. Total them up and you get 102 electoral votes.
There are two important takeaways from these facts: The generic Democratic nominee starts with an electoral vote lead of 140, and the Democratic nominee needs to find only 28 votes beyond that reliable base to win the presidency.
What that means in practical terms is that if Clinton wins the 19 states that every Democratic nominee dating to her husband has won and she wins Florida (29 electoral votes), she wins the White House. It’s that simple.
It’s well known that the Trump campaign is not doing so well among Latinos, a demographic critical in Florida, as well as other key states like Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Ohio, (maybe because they don’t like being falsely characterized as rapist drug dealers? I’m no expert, just guessing here..)
But it turns out that Latinos are the demographic most concerned and activated about climate change.
Alfredo Padilla grew up in Texas as a migrant farmworker who followed the harvest with his parents to pick sugar beets in Minnesota each summer. He has not forgotten the aches of labor or how much the weather — too little rain, or too much — affected the family livelihood.
Now an insurance lawyer in Carrizo Springs, Tex., he said he was concerned about global warming.
“It’s obviously happening, the flooding, the record droughts,” said Mr. Padilla, who agrees with the science that human activities are the leading cause of climate change. “And all this affects poor people harder. The jobs are more based on weather. And when there are hurricanes, when there is flooding, who gets hit the worst? The people on the poor side of town.”
Mr. Padilla’s concern is echoed by other Hispanics across the country, according to a poll conducted last month by The New York Times,Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research groupResources for the Future. The survey, in which Mr. Padilla was a respondent, found that Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to view global warming as a problem that affects them personally. It also found that they are more likely to support policies, such as taxes and regulations on greenhouse gas pollution, aimed at curbing it.
The findings in the poll could have significant implications for the 2016 presidential campaign as both parties seek to win votes from Hispanics, particularly in states like Florida and Colorado that will be influential in determining the outcome of the election. The poll also shows the challenge for the potential Republican presidential candidates — including two Hispanics — many of whom question or deny the scientific basis for the finding that humans caused global warming.
Among Hispanic respondents to the poll, 54 percent rated global warming as extremely or very important to them personally, compared with 37 percent of whites. Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics said they would be hurt personally to a significant degree if nothing was done to reduce global warming, compared with half of whites.
And 63 percent of Hispanics said the federal government should act broadly to address global warming, compared with 49 percent of whites.