Global Warming Is on the Local Ballot This Year – The New Republic
Data on public opinion makes it easier than ever to guess what kinds of messages on climate might work locally. The Yale Center on Climate Communication creates maps and fact sheets on every congressional district and metro area in the country, showing how people answered specific climate questions. Almost half (49 percent) of respondents in Nicole Malliotakis’s district—as well as in Henry Cuellar’s district in South Texas—say they have experienced the effects of the climate crisis personally.
Of course, climate’s resonance with voters—or even potential voters—is not the only reason for progressives to talk about the issue in the midterms. Climate could be a winning issue, but even if it isn’t, emphasizing it in electoral campaigns—which remains one of the best ways to reach large numbers of people—helps scare the fossil fuel–owned incumbents and build a more environmentally conscious majority for the future. More immediately, the climate crisis has what political insiders call “intensity”: Even if it doesn’t sway everyone’s vote, climate mobilizes those people who do care about the issue, generating volunteers and money, all of which does help win elections, usually more than policy nuances. Vilela says in her district, her opponent’s seat has been safely Democratic for a long time, but there’s been “an enthusiasm gap,” and voter turnout is much higher in the adjacent Republican district. Addressing working-class people’s need for good jobs and a clean environment could help.
Brittany Ramos DeBarros is making the same bet. She says her campaign’s surveys and door conversations have found widespread support for a Green New Deal, even from voters identifying as conservative. People respond to, and have great ideas for, what a Green New Deal could do for their underinvested area; DeBarros says constituents’ ideas include a “powerful green maritime economy” because of its waterfront location, as well as better transportation to lessen reliance on cars and investment in jobs on the island to reduce commuting itself.