The Media Claims Climate isn’t a Winning Issue. Polls say Otherwise

by Joe Romm –

Politico just linked to a poll that destroys its own argument.

NBC election night exit poll.

So let’s say you are a centrist media outlet that focuses on the political horse race, rather than, say, policy or stuff that matters to most voters.

Let’s say you don’t get the existential nature of the climate change issue, you mainly talk to the political “experts” who also don’t get it, and you want to focus on things that really matter, things with real drama — like post-election infighting among Democrats.

In short, you are Politico. Your problem, though, is that in covering the political infighting, you want to make the case that Democrats made a mistake by focusing on climate change.

Unfortunately, the polls actually show that climate change is a winning issue. And the head of the ticket, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, didn’t actually focus on climate change in the campaign. And, furthermore, what modest effort she did put into the issue was negated by a media that didn’t even raise the subject in any of the three presidential debates.

To get around those issues, in its big article on the Democracy Alliance (DA) donor club’s “closed door meeting,” Politico simply asserts a bunch of stuff that isn’t true — and then links to an exit poll that destroys their argument.

“Additionally, exit polls suggested that issues like fighting climate change and the role of money in politics — which the DA’s beneficiary groups have used to try to turn out voters — didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory,” reporter Kenneth Vogel writes.

The supporting link leads directly to an article headlined, “NBC News Exit Poll in Florida: Many Voters Say Climate Change Is a Serious Problem.” It features the chart at the top of this page. The story begins, “According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll, two-thirds of Florida voters consider climate change or global warming to be a severe problem.”

Seriously.

But wait, you say, Politico’s point is that climate change “didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory.” Let’s set aside how bizarre it is that Politico is dissing Democrats for supposedly trying to turn out their voters by focusing on issues that resonated more with their voters than Trump’s.

The article they link to also has this chart:

NBC election night exit poll

So in Florida, climate change was an overwhelming winner with Clinton voters — and it was even a winner with 42 percent of Trump voters. Memo to Politico: Contrary to what you wrote, the poll you link to shows climate change is the very definition of a winning “wedge issue,” one that Clinton’s voters overwhelmingly support and her opponent’s voters are split over — something we have known for a long time.

Too bad Clinton didn’t actually make it a major focus of her campaign and the media largely ignored it. She only lost the state by 1.3 percent, 120,000 votes.

Who knows — maybe by the time Democrats run a candidate who makes climate change and cutting pollution a major focus, the media will actually cover the topic?

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress