Election-night poll in 83 battleground districts found, “Energy Vote Did Not Contribute to Democratic Defeat.”
According to the center-right Politico, “House Democrats who voted for the 2009 bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions – dubbed cap-and-tax by GOP opponents – had a terrible night.” That’s from a piece headlined, “Democrats’ day of reckoning comes for climate vote.” You can tell all you need to know about the Politico’s political leanings from its repetition of the polluter-tested-phrase ‘cap-and-tax’ to apply to a centrist, Republican-designed emissions reduction strategy.
The fact is, House Democrats in general had a terrible night. Indeed, a post-election analysis (below) finds that nearly two thirds of the house Democrats who voted ‘no’ on the House climate and clean energy jobs bill, lost their seats. Time magazine concludes:
But how big a factor was cap-and-trade on election night? In reality, not all that much. It’s worth noting that no Republican who voted in favor of cap-and-trade lost their reelection battles last night…. Even in the midst of a Republican tsunami, a few Democrats who supported a carbon cap still managed close victories, including Brad Miller of North Carolina and John Yarmuth of Kentucky””two conservative leaning states. “I’m not saying cap-and-trade wasn’t an issue,” says Cathy Duvall, the political director for the Sierra Club. “But there were people who voted for it who lost and people who voted against it who lost, in tough districts and in more traditional districts.”
UPDATE: An election-night poll by Greenberg found, “Energy Vote Did Not Contribute to Democratic Defeat.” Key findings:
- Members’ support for ACES did not contribute to their defeat. When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked in an open ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited something related to energy or cap and trade. And when offered a list of six arguments Republicans made against Democrats, only 7 percent of voters selected the so-called “cap and trade energy tax.”
- Despite a strongly Republican leaning electorate, battleground voters trusted the Democrat more than the Republican when it comes to energy. The election night survey shows a battleground electorate that leans Republican by 10 percentage points on partisanship, yet they favored the Democrat on energy by 6 points.
- A majority supports comprehensive energy reform. When presented with a comprehensive energy plan, battleground voters back the plan by 16 percent.
- Majority support for EPA regulation of carbon. By a considerable 22 percent margin, battleground voters believe the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Voters want to hold corporations accountable for their pollution. By a huge 41 percent margin, voters believe “we need to hold corporations accountable for their pollution,” rejecting the argument that “we should not impose new regulations that will hurt businesses.”
This, of course, matches all the pre-election polling (see Yet another major poll finds strong public support for global warming action, “even if it means an increase in the cost of energy”).
It’s worth noting that even in the midst of a Republican tsunami, 80% of the Democrats who supported a carbon cap kept their seats. Perhaps more noteworthy is how many Democrats who opposed a carbon lost their seats, according to an analysis of election results and 2009 ACES votes conducted by The Glover Park Group, a Washington, DC, public affairs consultancy”:
As The Glover Park Group also notes:
ACES was actually a winner for most of its Republican supporters: If the “cap and tax bloodbath” story were true, you’d expect the GOP “traitors” who voted for ACES to get booted, right? Wrong: 7 of the 8 Republicans who voted FOR the climate bill were either re-elected, elevated to the Senate or made Secretary of the Army: Mary Bono Mack (CA-45): Re-Elected; Mike Castle (DE-AL): Ran for Senate, Lost Republican Primary; Mark Kirk (IL-10): Elected Senator from Illinois; Leonard Lance (NJ-7): Re-Elected; Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2): Re-Elected; John McHugh (NY-23): Now serves as U.S. Secretary of the Army; Dave Reichert (WA-8): Re-Elected; Chris Smith (NJ-4): Re-Elected. If you leave McHugh aside, that’s a 75% win rate for GOP “yes” votes on climate.
Time‘s Bryan Walsh makes the larger point:
Indeed, aside from a few districts where climate change and energy was high on the agenda””like Rick Boucher’s coal-mining land””Americans voters weren’t really focused on environmental issues. This was a wave election, an expression of volcanic anger on the part of the public, and what House and Senate Democrats did or didn’t do on climate and energy likely made very little difference to the overall tide.
As I noted last night, California is the only place in the country where climate and clean energy activists aggressively pushed their message across the board in the face of strong, well-funded opposition by Big Oil. Prop 23 lost by more than 20 points. Whitman and Fiorina were crushed running on an explicit dirty-energy agenda and/or running against candidates with an unabashed clean energy agenda.
Cap-and-trade died in July. It was obvious then it wasn’t coming back anytime soon. I’ll post soon on just when the United States might conceivably rejoin the growing list of nations prepared to take serious climate action.
See also Brad Johnson’s, “Without Evidence, Politico Spins Climate Vote As Electoral Lose.”