Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Campaign 2016: Nobody Cares about Climate Change (Except Tom Steyer)

by Marita Noon

 ...On February 11, Politico released survey results from “a bipartisan panel of respondents” who are “Republican and Democratic insiders” and “activists, strategists and operatives in the four early nominating states” who answered the questions anonymously. The results? As one Republican respondent from South Carolina (SC) put it: “Climate change is simply not a front burner issue to most people.” A Nevada Democrat agreed: “I don’t believe this is a critical issue for many voters when compared to the economy and national security.”

One SC Republican said that no “blue-collar swing voter” ever said: “I really like their jobs plan, but, boy, I don’t know about their position on climate change.” Over all, the Republicans don’t think that opposing public policy to address the perceived threats of climate change will hurt their candidates. The topic never came up in the recent SC Republican debate.

Steyer sees that on the issue of climate change, “the two parties could not be further apart.” However, the “insider” survey found that Democrats were split on the issue. When asked if “disputing the notion of manmade climate change would be damaging in the general election,” some thought it would, but others “thought climate change isn’t a major issue for voters.”

While we are far from the days, of “drill, baby drill,” when asked about increasing production, Republicans see that their pro-development policies are unaffected by “price fluctuations.” A SC Republican stated: “Most Republicans view this issue through a national security lens. Low prices might diminish the intensity, but GOP voters will still want America to be energy independent regardless of oil prices.”

On February 12, Politico held a gathering called “Caucus Energy South Carolina” that featured several of the SC “insiders” among whom the host said are “influential voices,” who offer “keen insight into what’s going on on the ground.”

There, Mike McKenna, who has consulted a wide variety of political clients and who has served as an external relations specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy, declared: “Energy is a second tier issue. Climate change is fifth tier. Nobody cares about it. It is always at the bottom.”
Even Democrat Jane Kleeb, an outspoken opponent of the Keystone pipeline, acknowledged that climate change, as an issue, doesn’t move people to act.

David Wilkins, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, said that voters are “not going to let the environment trump the economy.” He believes there will be a reapplication for the Keystone pipeline and that eventually it will be built. Another insider, Democrat Inez Tenenbaum, disagreed, saying: “people don’t want to be energy dependent.” To which Wilkins quipped: “All the more reason to get oil from our friends.”

When it comes to energy, there are clearly differences between the parties, but strangely both agree that climate change isn’t “a major issue for voters.”

No comments: