The First Climate Election

November 6, 2018

In a country so closely divided as the US is right now, the emergence of climate as an issue that a significant number of voters care about can be a game changer in close races.
We have seen in this cycle a number of Democratic politicians embrace climate, and more broadly, a respect for science and fact, as an issue – as well as advocating for clean energy strategies.

Prominently, Andrew Gillum in his run for the extremely important Florida Governor seat, and Beto O’Rourke in his Texas Senate race, have been fearless and out front on climate change and renewable energy.

In regions like South Florida, Rep. Carlos Curbello, a Republican, has joined a bipartisan “climate caucus” as a means of demonstrating concern about climate and the sea level rise so obvious in his district.

Regardless of today’s results, the importance of climate and clean energy as a political issue has crossed a threshold.

Vox:

The industry’s dilemma is brought home by a recent bit of market research and polling done on behalf of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utilities. It was distributed at a recent meeting of EEI board members and executives and shared with me.

The work was done by the market research firm Maslansky & Partners, which analyzed existing utility messaging, interviewed utility execs and environmentalists, ran a national opinion survey, and did a couple of three-hour sit-downs with “media informed customers” in Minneapolis and Phoenix.

The results are striking. They do a great job of laying out the public opinion landscape on renewables, showing where different groups have advantages and disadvantages.

The takeaway: Renewables are a public opinion juggernaut. Being against them is no longer an option. The industry’s best and only hope is to slow down the stampede a bit (and that’s what they plan to try).

In our polarized age, here is something we almost all agree on: Renewable energy is awesome.

Here’s the most striking slide in the presentation:

poll18

In case you don’t feel like squinting, let me draw your attention to the fact that a majority of those surveyed (51 percent) believe that 100 percent renewables is a good idea even if it raises their energy bills by 30 percent.

That is wild. As anyone who’s been in politics a while knows, Americans don’t generally like people raising their bills, much less by a third. A majority that still favors it? That is political dynamite.

Meanwhile, there are some on the climate action side who view Republicans like Rep. Curbelo as “climate peacocks”, more show than substance.

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