If Democrats use their majorities in Congress to pass meaningful climate legislation, it could be a huge boon to their party in the upcoming midterm elections, new polling shows.
A poll of over 1,100 likely voters conducted by Climate Power and Data for Progress shows that nearly half of voters – about 46 percent – say that they would be “much more” or “somewhat more” likely to vote for Democratic candidates this fall if Congress passed a clean energy bill to address the climate crisis, including 75 percent of self-declared Democrats and 45 percent of independents. About 31 percent of voters said that such an action wouldn’t affect their choice.
The poll finds that passing climate legislation would also help Democrats court younger voters – a group from which President Joe Biden has been losing support in recent months. Among poll respondents under 45 years old, 58 percent say that they’d be more likely to vote for Democrats this fall if they acted on climate, while 27 percent say it wouldn’t affect their choice.
The findings suggest that Democrats should act urgently to pass legislation to fund and expand clean energy production in the country in order to maintain their standing in the House and the Senate. Most pollsters currently predict that Democrats will at least lose the House to Republicans in November.
“[L]awmakers have a mandate from voters to invest in domestic clean energy production and voters agree these investments will increase America’s energy security,” Data for Progress’s Danielle Deiseroth writes of the findings. “Voters recognize that climate change is not something that will happen in the distant future, but rather is happening now and even in their own backyards.”
Overall, a majority of voters say that they think Congress should invest in clean energy. A whopping 90 percent of poll respondents said that they’d support the issue in order to address energy shortages caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including an overwhelming majority of people from across the political spectrum.
Indeed, climate experts say that shifting to clean energy sources like wind and solar is the only real way to achieve energy independence, while accruing additional benefits to public health and energy price dependability.
International climate experts have also found that, in order to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, major nations like the U.S. need to drastically reduce their production and use of fossil fuels. If the U.S. and other large emitters fail to rise to the occasion, it will spell catastrophe for the climate and for society as we know it.
Though Democrats don’t have enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate – and would likely not be able to court enough Republicans, if at all any, to vote for clean energy legislation – the party could still take action through the budget reconciliation process on the issue. Reconciliation, which the party was planning to use for the Build Back Better Act last year, allows the Senate to pass legislation that’s related to the federal budget through a simple majority vote.
Democrats are currently in talks to hammer out a new reconciliation deal, but nearly the entirety of the contents of that bill will be determined by whether or not they have the approval of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), a coal baron who is opposed to provisions that would phase out fossil fuels. This may be related to the fact that Manchin’s career and personal finances have benefited hugely from his stake in the coal industry.
The poll findings add to a pile of evidence that shows Democrats should take bold, decisive action to help win over voters this fall.
Previous Data for Progress polling found that student loan cancellation would find favor with about 45 percent of poll respondents in key battleground states and that it would also give a generic Democratic candidate about 6 points in support among young voters. Another poll last month by Morning Consult/Politico found that Democrats have lost ground among recipients of the expanded child tax credit since it expired in December, suggesting that Democrats may be able to gain back those voters if they reinstated the program.