Democrats Shelve Climate Change Rhetoric As Election Nears

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Democratic messaging on climate change has been stunted throughout the midterm election cycle, and most candidates are turning to other issues to connect with voters, The New York Times reports.

Health care and the economy consistently top polls of key issues and social security, immigration and guns usually perform well too. Climate change, energy and the environment are almost always counted among the least important issues to voters deciding who to support.

Of 161 potentially competitive congressional races, just a “handful” of Democrats have released campaign ads, either on television or the internet, that talk prominently of climate change and energy issues, Climate Nexus’s in-house database shows, according to TheNYT.

“Until voters in the U.S. perceive this as a quite imminent threat, it’s liable to remain mired in the middle of all the other issues,” Climate Nexus executive director Jeff Nesbit, whose group is dedicated to communicating climate change threat, told TheNYT.

Influential Democrats such as mega-donor Tom Steyer and former Vice President Al Gore have raised and donated millions of dollars to environmental initiatives. (RELATED: Climate Activist Tom Steyer Spent $160 Million Trying To Influence Elections, Now He Might Run For President)

Environmental issues have gained support from an active minority in the Democratic Party base. The Sierra Club, Earthjustice and other green organizations have filed dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration over environmental regulations. Activists travel across the country to protest prominent oil and gas projects such as the Keystone XL and Bayou Bridge pipelines.

The average Democrat running for a congressional seat in 2018 hardly mentions climate change and the environment because most voters would rather hear about other issues. In close races, speaking on climate change might motivate conservative voters to turn out against Democratic candidates rather than encouraging Democratic voters to cast their ballots, according to The New York Times.

Highly publicized environmental activism and data has not translated into widespread concern for broader issues of climate change, energy or the environment as far as elections go. The top issues of registered voters are immigration and health care, according to a June poll by The Pew Research Center. Immigration most interested 19 percent of registered voters and health care is the key issue for 13 percent.

In a survey in which one of seven broad topics voters were most interested in for the 2018 midterms, energy issues never performed better than 5 percent by any metric and was often the least supported key issue, other than issues that fall into the obscure eighth category of “other,” according to an April survey by Morning Consult.

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