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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Global Warming as a Sleeper Issue

For all of the media coverage and water-coooler buzz about global warming as an issue of concern, it checks in fairly low in priority rankings, when it is listed at all. Most recently, it ranked 7th in a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted 7/9-17.
But such rankings of the importance of issues may understate the depth of concern many people have about global warming. A national survey conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute 7-23-26 and released last week indicates that 40% of respondents now say that presidential candidates’ positions on the issue will “strongly influence” their vote in both the presidential primaries and general election.
The survey also found that 85 percent favored requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trucks and SUVs to 35 mpg, “even if it meant a new car would cost up to $500 more.” In addition, 82 percent of respondents want to require that at least 20 percent of electricity comes from renewable sources, even if it costs an extra $100 annually. However, two-thirds of respondents opposed raising gasoline taxes and 71 percent were against raising electricity taxes to curb carbon emissions.
Democrats have a significant edge in addressing global warming. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted 7/27-30 found that 48 percent of adults said the Democratic Party would do a “better job” of addressing the issue, while only 9 percent favored the Republicans.
Democrats are expected to provide the needed leadership on the issue, a challenge that is proving increasingly difficult for a party well-short of a veto-proof majority. As Daniel W. Reilly explains in his post on the topic at The Politico, “Democrats have held more than 120 hearings on global warming and have delivered countless speeches in this Congress. Yet a climate change bill is still in the drafting stages in the Senate.”
With a president hostile to environmental reform in the white house, enactment of global warming reforms could be more than a year away. But clearly, the low regard the public has for the GOP’s commitment to curb global warming gives Dems an advantage. In light of the alarming greenhouse gas threshold announcement in today’s WaPo, highlighting the difference between the parties on the issue could make a pivotal difference in the ’08 presidential and congressional elections.

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