Acknowledging climate change is good politics for Republicans today, and it will be even better politics in the future.
According to CNN’s 2018 election poll exit survey, Republicans lost support among voters who were 49 and younger. It was only among the 50-64 and 65 and older voters where Republicans won the majority, but those were by slim margins, 1 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Also in 2018, for the first time, Millennials and Z and X generations were the majority of voters—62.2 million voters versus the 60.1 million voters from the baby boomer and older generations.
Finally, a May 2019 Public Opinion Strategy (POS) survey concluded: “Here is another gap between our party and younger voters: Climate change is their most important issue.”
On its face, the POS results are surprising because we know that many voters rank issues like jobs, the economy, and national security above climate change. However, for younger voters, the reality of climate change and how it will impact their lives is part of that larger conversation. It is about the future of our economy, national security and stability around the world, and costs associated with adaptation and mitigation.
The majority of Americans believe the climate is changing. Among college-educated voters, especially suburban women, climate change is no longer up for debate. House Republicans, led by Congressman Greg Walden and members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, have been smart in their approach—accept the science and have a thoughtful debate on the solutions.
This is a winning strategy for Republicans, especially as Democrats embrace the “green new deal” and its absurdity (banning hamburgers and air travel to name a couple). Suddenly, the reasonable middle ground on climate change is up for grabs. And Republicans should take it now, in 2020, and in the future.