Public opinion polls that find that we average Americans prefer to keep a planet that we can live on are a dime a dozen, but they never make a damn bit of difference, because dirty-fueled politicians say, “oh, but not my constituents”. Here’s a poll that might change that, because it focused on swing voters in key states.
Instead of asking average Americans – nationwide – the Woods Institute for the Environment asked just the constituents of several possible filibuster-breaker Republican Senators; who are in a position to tip the balance in getting clean energy legislation passed.
Read this and quake, if you are a Republican Senator from Massachusetts or Florida. Your constituents do too care.
Your constituents were asked whether global warming is happening and what is causing it. They were asked if they worry about how bad it will be, about global warming affecting them, how much it will cost, and how much they think we should spend to stop it.
Surprise. Constituents in those states are just like average Americans. Large majorities of all three states believe that global warming has been happening, is human caused, will be problematic, and should be addressed by government. (Poll)
While these Republican Senators will not pick up any Republican votes by moving to the center of American values, according to the poll; they could well earn new votes from Democrats and Independents for breaking with the party.
And both Massachusetts and Florida Senators will need the votes of Democrats and Independents.
How many? The poll found a potential 3 point swing in Florida and a 9 point swing in Massachusetts. (The poll also queried voters in Maine, with the same results. But clearly Maine’s two Republicans, Collins and Snowe know this already. They have voted with Democrats on clean energy for over a decade.) This vote-changing potential was lowest among Republican voters, but higher for Independents, and highest among Democrats.
This poll would put the most pressure on Republican Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, who has shown he might break from the filibuster pack on clean energy. (The other Senator from Massachusetts is a Democrat; Senator Kerry, who authored climate legislation this year.)
Florida is, at this point, up for grabs. The clean energy vote of Bill Nelson (D-FL) is not in question, but the Republican Senator for Florida, George LeMieux, is retiring.
His seat will be taken in January by either a regular Republican (Rubio) who would become merely one more filibuster vote in the Senate, or possibly – by former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who has had to run as an Independent, because Republican voters there don’t like his bipartisan voting record. (A very weak Democrat is running a very distant third in the three way race, so this poll is really aimed at Crist in Florida, because he splits the Democratic vote).
Crist has been somewhat more supportive of clean energy legislation than most Republican Governors, with the exception of Arnold Schwartzenegger. This poll pressures him to vote with the Democrats on clean energy votes. Like Senator Brown, Governor Crist would need Democratic votes to keep a seat in the Senate.
Image: the White House at Flikr
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