Young Voters Show that Climate Matters

November 18, 2022

Above, report from a Seattle TV station.

Media Matters:

Despite Fox News’ claims to the contrary, climate change was among top voter concerns during the recent 2022 midterm elections. 

The issue of climate change took center stage during the general election for the first time in 2020. Since then, poll after poll has found that climate change is top of mind for manyvoters, and exit polls found that it was a key issue for 2022 midterm voters. Even Fox had to briefly acknowledge this reality, though it won’t likely have any material impact on the network’s climate coverage.

CNN’s exit poll found that 71% of voters stated that climate change is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem, while 61% of voters in Fox News’ voter analysis survey were “very/somewhat concerned” about climate change. Regarding whether climate has become a viable election issue, InsideClimateNews suggested that “the political dynamics around climate in the 2022 midterms could stand out as a milestone.” Or as The New Republic summarized:

This year, more “climate voters,” people whose top issue is the climate crisis, showed up to cast ballots than in any other election in U.S. history. Exit polls show that, contrary to conventional Democratic consultant-class wisdom, climate was the top issue for 8 percent of voters, a share surpassed only by “inflation/economy,” immigration, and abortion (the latter two are tied at second place). You’d never guess it from media coverage, but climate and crime were tied for third place. The percentage of voters prioritizing climate had jumped by four points from 2020, the first year that voters were even asked at the polls about “climate” as opposed to “environment.” There are probably several factors behind this impressive showing.

Climate could play an important role in the Georgia Senate runoff election, especially among socially marginalized communities that have been bearing the brunt of climate-driven extreme weather events and environmental pollution. In addition to grassroots organizing efforts, Climate Monitor noted that “LCV [League of Conservation Voters] has already launched a new video ad supporting Sen. Raphael Warnock in his runoff election on December 6th. Environmental Voter Project is also already spending in Georgia’s Senate runoff.”

This belies Fox News’ attempts to downplay climate change as a concern for voters. This summer, the network, among other right-wing media outlets, cherry-picked data from a Siena College and New York Times poll to claim that Americans did not care about climate change. For example, the July 20 episode of America’s Newsroom featured Kellyanne Conway, former White House counselor under President Donald Trump, claiming that President Joe Biden is focusing on climate and the poll shows voters “don’t think that he’s connected to them in a way that he is listening to them and hearing their concerns.”

During the July 24 episode of Fox & Friends Weekend, co-host Pete Hegseth claimed, “They’re using the blue checkmark woke brigade to attempt to cudgel the White House to declare a crisis based on 1% of Americans who believe it’s their religion, which could change all of our lives, and change it rapidly, if he caves to groups like this.”

In the months and weeks leading up to the November 8 midterm elections, Fox News continued to downplay voter concerns about climate change. For example, during the September 14 episode of The Story With Martha MacCallum, Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich led off a segment that attacked the climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act by using a Gallup poll to claim that “voters are far more concerned with the economy than they are with climate.” Fox News hosted commentator Angela Morabito on the September 27 episode of Fox News at Night, where she claimed that climate change was a “luxury problem” above a chyron that read “Midterm Motivators.”

Inside Climate News:

Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old community organizer, has become the first member of Generation Z elected to Congress after winning a House seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District.

The young Democrat’s victory came as his generation was also getting credit for helping to stop a red wave of Republican victories in Tuesday’s national midterm elections.

This historic win in the Orlando-area district will do more than just bring down the average age of a House member, which is currently 58. It will also highlight the importance of two issues credited with motivating Gen Z voters to turn out: gun violence and climate change. 

In an interview with iGen Politics in October, Frost said that the climate crisis is one of the reasons he decided to run for Congress. He spoke about experiencing Hurricane Ian, a monstrous Category 4 storm that slammed into Florida’s southwest coast on Sept. 28, killing more than 100 people in the state. In the morning before the interview, he worked to distribute donated food and supplies to families displaced by the catastrophic storm. 

“We didn’t cause the hurricane but science tells us that we are contributing to these more devastating effects,” he said then. “And so, the cost of not doing anything is far greater than the cost of taking bold action and this is one of the reasons why I decided to run for Congress.” 

In election after election, climate change, or more broadly, the environment, has failed to become a decisive factor in races for Congress or the presidency. But that may be changing as climate change, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, has become nothing less than “a code red for humanity”—and the political dynamics around climate in the 2022 midterms could stand out as a milestone.

Frost represents a generational shift in a national political landscape where a segment of voters is emerging to make climate change a bigger factor, experts said Wednesday.

Exit polling suggests that young voters aged 18 to 29, many of whom likely factored climate change among their top concerns, stood in the breach of a Republican red wave that never materialized. Nationally, about one in eight voters was between 18 and 29, and two-thirds of them voted for the Democrats, according to an NBC News exit poll.


One Response to “Young Voters Show that Climate Matters”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Maxine Joselow: “…found that Republicans that joined the Conservative Climate Caucus—it’s a group in Congress made up of Republicans to discuss climate issues—have overwhelmingly won their primaries. They have a 62-5 win/loss record in their primary elections this year.”

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