A new poll by Old Dominion University finds Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading climate-change denier Ken Cuccinelli II (R) by more than 7 points in the governor’s race. One factor in this: Virginians, by almost a two-to-one super-majority, disagree with Cuccinelli’s view that climate change has little to do with humans.
In what the polling memo called a “lopsided division of public opinion,” 62.7 percent of respondents answered affirmatively when asked “Do you believe human activity is a major contributing factor in climate change?” Just 34.5 percent said they did not.
Cuccinelli has made his opposition to climate science a key selling point of his candidacy. In Thursday’s final debate, he boasted of his unsuccessful lawsuit to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and accused McAuliffe of waging a “war on coal.”
In the debate, McAuliffe criticized Cuccinelli’s also-unsuccessful attempt to wage a witch hunt against a University of Virginia climate scientist that cost the university $570,000. Cuccinelli “intimidated scientists at our great universities,” McAuliffe observed, warning that this would scare off businesses from investing in Virginia.
Inaction on climate change could cost Virginia even more than that. Excessive flooding from rising sea levels, heat waves, and warmer waters could combine to deprive Virginia of $45 billion and 314,000 jobs. By 2050, severe storms could threaten $129 billion of the state’s property. Past storms have proven that the threat is real: Hurricane Isabel killed 32 Virginians and cost the state $1.9 billion in damages.