Energy remains an uncertain election issue for Democrats
National surveys show the public supports having more green energy. But in local elections, energy is likely to take a backseat to the economy.
Thu, Jul 08, 2010 at 02:39 PM
VOTING GREEN: In 2010, support for energy efficiency caused the Alaska legislature to overturn then Gov. Sarah Palin's stimulus package veto. (Credit: Alaska Youth for Environmental Action/Flickr)
“It’s all about jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.”
These words came from a friend who is currently working on several Democratic campaigns around the country. She continued, “If we can argue that we are better than [Republican candidates] at putting people back to work, we win. If we don’t, we lose.”
This conversation happened hours after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revealed that the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act would cut the federal budget deficit by $19 billion over 10 years. Naturally, I asked my friend if this news would help the sputtering bill to gain support since the economy is on top of so many minds.
“Nope,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Having a job and not having a job is as concrete as it gets. The budget is complicated; cap-and-trade is complicated, it’s tough to run on those in local and state elections,” she said. “Unless a connection can be made between the bill and job creation, it will be tough to get candidates to touch it.”
While Kerry-Lieberman may be a tough sell, this may mean more potential support for bills like Jeff Bingamann’s American Clean Energy Leadership Act, which contains specific language providing incentives for increased solar, wind, and other domestic renewable energy.
And while one election expert may veer away from energy issues in smaller elections, clean energy polls well nationally. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, shows that 87 percent of the public favors comprehensive energy legislation requiring utilities to produce more electricity from wind, solar and other renewables. The same survey shows that 78 percent of those polled want tougher energy efficiencies for buildings and appliances, and that 66 percent of those polled favor limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
The poll did not ask if or how much people were willing to pay to make these desires reality.
More importantly, this data doesn’t reveal if energy issues will drive voters to the polls this November. But, if the energy quagmire in Washington is any indication, energy legislation won’t be at the top of too many stump speeches.