Johnson is facing a tough re-election fight against ex-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).
GOP: How’s that Science Denial Working for You?
August 9, 2016
Yesterday a very vulnerable GOP Senate Candidate, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, publicly broke with her party in announcing she could not support Presidential nominee Donald Trump, in part because of his stand on climate change. As this NYTimes piece from a few days ago shows, Ayotte was trying to keep up a front, but having trouble swallowing the GOP’s increasingly, let’s say, out-of-step – denial of science.
A Gallup poll in March found that 65 percent of Americans believed that climate change was caused by human activity, an increase of 10 points from a year earlier. The poll found that 38 percent of Republicans believed the same thing, an increase of four points from a year earlier. The poll also found that 76 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 accepted that human activity is behind climate change.
Some Republican strategists say they are concerned that Mr. Trump’s views on the issue could push younger voters away from the party for the long term, much as they fear that his immigration policies and remarks about women could alienate Hispanics and female voters.
“It’s important for Republican candidates to talk about the issue intelligently and not be dismissive of climate change,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. He worked for the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and now works for an advocacy group backing Mr. Rubio’s Senate re-election campaign.
“The way you talk about climate change sends a signal to millennials about how sensitive you are to the environment,” Mr. Ayres said. “Millennials recently passed baby boomers to become the largest generation, so any party that hopes to own the future politically needs to be attractive to millennials.”
As they have on other policy issues this year, some Republican candidates are staking out positions different from Mr. Trump’s. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a state where voters tend to favor environmentally friendly candidates, has endorsed Mr. Trump but has broken with her party to vote to uphold the Obama administration’s climate change regulations. Her campaign website says she is “working to combat the effects of climate change.”
A Gallup Poll released in March shows a dramatic nine percent increase in the number of people who attribute climate change to human causes, from 55 percent in 2015 to 64 percent in 2016. The increase has occurred across party lines, although still remains most significant in the Democratic party.
Several political strategists have remarked on how important the GOP’s climate change rhetoric will be for the future of the party, particularly when it comes to attracting Millennial voters, who recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation. Nearly three quarters of Americans ages 18 to 29 support stricter emissions limits of power plants, according to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center.
“It’s important for Republican candidates to talk about the issue intelligently and not be dismissive of climate change,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, told The New York Times. “The way you talk about climate change sends a signal to millennials about how sensitive you are to the environment.”
Twice as many Republicans are unsure about the evidence of global warming as they were a year ago, and Donald Trump could be playing a role, finds a new survey led by University of Michigan researchers.
Some 26 percent of Republicans told researchers this spring they were unsure about global warming, up from 13 percent last year, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE) report released Tuesday. Republicans are also more likely than Independent and Democrat voters to either doubt climate change or denying it altogether, according to the survey.
“Our survey indicates [Donald] Trump’s influence may have led to increased uncertainty among Republicans as opposed to a wholesale swing from believer to nonbeliever status,” said Sarah Mills, co-author and post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Local State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.
Overall, though, just 15 percent of Americans say they don’t believe the earth is warming, down from 24 percent a year ago and the lowest since the NSEE began in 2008.
“The rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president – a self-professed nonbeliever of global warming – may have had an impact on Republican attitudes about climate change,” said Sarah Mills, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.
“Our survey indicates Trump’s influence may have led to increased uncertainty among Republicans as opposed to a wholesale swing from believer to nonbeliever status.”
The GOP nominee said nothing about climate change in his July 21 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. According to an article in USA Today, he told a rally in South Carolina in December that global warming was “a hoax, a lot of it,” a modest change from a tweet in 2013 that called global warming “bulls—.”
Trump has referred to global warming as a hoax multiple times during speeches and on his Twitter account in recent years.
Last week I wrote about a senior Republican congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, who not only denies climate change is real but made the bizarre statement that the Earth is actually cooling.
I know, right? But not to be outdone by his colleague in the other chamber, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, decided to let loose with a stream of nonsense on the same issue in an apparent attempt of what I can only think of as one-downmanship.
On the Glenn Klein radio show on Wisconsin’s WRJN on Tuesday, Johnson decided to let the world know his grasp of science is at best tenuous, and he’s more than willing to grease his fingers. As an example, he said this:
First of all the climate hasn’t warmed in quite a few years, that is proven scientifically.
On the heels of the news that 50 senior Republican national security experts are calling the current nominee “would be the most reckless president in American history’ – two former GOP EPA directors have added this:
Two former Republican administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday endorsed Hillary Clinton, becoming the latest in a series of one-time GOP government officials to back the Democratic presidential nominee over Donald Trump.
In a joint statement, William D. Ruckelshaus and William K. Reilly say that Trump has showed “a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws” and that Clinton is “committed to reasonable, science-based policy.”
Ruckelshaus was the first administrator of the EPA, serving under President Richard Nixon. He returned to the same position during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Reilly was the EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush.