Climate Issues Get Major Backing in 2014 Midterm Elections
Today is Election Day, and along with the usual big concerns – the economy, national security – climate issues may have a major impact on the results. As a Washington Post article pointed out, environmental groups spent a record-breaking $85 million on this year’s elections, and their efforts were also more coordinated than ever before.
Research shows the time is right for this messaging. A recent poll found that 54 percent of swing-state voters were more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to take action on climate change. 68 percent of those voters said they would back a candidate who supports renewable energy like wind and solar.
African-American, Asian, and Hispanic voters may also prove crucial in today’s election. According to data from the Pew Research Center, over 40 percent of non-white Americans said they believed climate change should be a “top priority for the president and Congress.”
And while some national campaigns have shied away from climate-change messages, many local politicians have embraced the issue. In communities where rising tides or heavy rains are a real concern, addressing climate change is less a political than a practical matter.
Whatever the outcome of the election, it’s important to keep these factors in mind when thinking about climate communications. We need to do our research to find out what will resonate. We need to focus on the personal and local before moving on to the global. We need to start from the perspective of the audience, and understand what matters to them.
Chris Mooney, Contributor to the Washington Post
In the 2014 midterm election, facing off against voluminous spending by conservative groups and powered by a billionaire of their own, Tom Steyer, top environmental organizations say they are set to spend over $85 million – a record amount – trying to influence key races.
The motivation is clear. The groups are driven by the growing urgency of the climate change problem in general, and also the fate of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, which some fear might be hindered in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Image credit: Dwight Burdette