Will Swing Vote Senators Honor the Interests of Dirty Energy or their Constituents?


Photo via the NY Times

That's pretty much what it comes down to now. We've already got evidence that the majority of Americans support both Obama's energy policies (which include climate action and clean energy reform) and a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But now there's more: a new poll found that voters in states with undecided senators--those considered 'swing votes' for passing the climate bill--would be more likely to want to reelect those who vote in favor of the climate bill. This is big news. Those senators now essentially have a choice: vote in line with the majority of their constituents, or vote to aid coal, oil, and heavy industry interests. The poll asked registered voters in 16 'swing states' (mostly Midwestern states like Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, etc) if they'd be more likely to vote to reelect their senator if they voted in favor of a climate bill, then asked if they'd be less likely to reelect them if they didn't. The results?

  • 60% of the respondents said they'd be more likely to reelect the senators if they voted for clean energy legislation.
  • 52% said they'd be less likely to vote for their reelection if they voted against it.
  • Only 26% said they'd be less likely to vote to reelect their senator if they did vote for a climate bill.

That gives senators pretty damn good odds that voting for the climate bill will have a favorable impact on their reelection campaigns. And as icing on the cake, the poll respondents demonstrated that the standard Republican line of attack against the bill--that it would be a job killer and a needless tax--weren't taking. People were more likely to pay attention to the national security threats presented by continued reliance on fossil fuels, and despite the (fraudulent) GOP attacks, they saw through the smears: 50% believed the bill would create jobs, and only 26% felt it would kill them.

Granted, the polling pool was relatively small, but we're getting multiple polls now that show a majority support for clean energy reform, and amazingly to this (happily) surprised cynic, majority support for a cap and trade system. So there you have it: the senators have to weigh their priorities. Will they take into account the concerns of the American people, or the coal companies who help finance their campaigns. Sure, it's a little more complicated than that--but not by too much.

So what's it going to be, senators?

More on the Climate Bill in the Senate
Senate Climate Bill Delayed - Why That's Not Such a Bad Thing
Could the US Senate Pass the Climate Bill , then Reject a Global Treaty?
Just Getting a Climate Bill Out of Committee by December a Good Start

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