Today the Obama administration began what The Hill is calling a 'new climate war," introducing new carbon emissions standards for existing power plants.
Is this a risky expenditure of political capital, one that's going to hurt Democrats at the ballot box? Greg Sargent doesn't think so, and he think he has the numbers to back that up:
Republicans are reacting gleefully today to the announcement of new EPA rules curbing carbon emissions at existing power plants....Emphasis in original. And the numbers just go on and on like that.
But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that "a lopsided and bipartisan majority of Americans support federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions," and not only that, "most are willing to stomach a higher energy bill to pay for it."
Wait, but what about in red states, where the battle for the Senate will play out?
It turns out that even in red states, support for federal curbs on greenhouse gas emissions is almost as widespread as among Americans overall. According to data that the Post polling team sent my way, there just isn't any significant difference between red and blue state residents on this issue:
* Among Americans overall, 69 percent say global warming is a serious problem, versus 29 percent who say it isn't. Among Americans in the states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012, those numbers are 67-31. Among Americans in states carried by Barack Obama, they are 70-28....
But I can think of another issue with lopsided numbers like this: gun control. On guns, it seems as if there's an even split between red and blue America, and then you look at the poll results for, say, universal background checks, and every demographic group seems to be on the blue side.
And how's that worked out politically? It doesn't seem to matter, because the antis are very, very, very anti, and they'll crawl naked through ground glass to vote against gun control supporters, while pro-gun-control Americans aren't nearly so committed.
So which is it, America? We now know you take climate change seriously. Do you take it only as seriously as you take our insane gun policies (i.e., not very)? Or will you actually vote for the planet?
I'm not ready to say we're going to win this one just because of one overwhelmingly favorable poll. A CBS poll suggests less reason for optimism:
... according to a recent CBS News Poll, while most Americans express concern about global warming, many aren't feeling a great sense of urgency about its impact.Who's going to be motivated to vote on this issue? (Yeah, young people care about climate change, but old people vote.) What will the effect of massive numbers of right-wing attack ads be? Is this going to be another issue that cranks up voter motivation on the right and not on the left or in the center?
The poll, conducted last month, found fewer than half of Americans (46 percent) think global warming is having a serious impact now. Another 31 percent don't expect a serious impact until sometime in the future, and one in five doesn't think global warming will have a serious impact at all.
... A majority of college graduates (60 percent) believe global warming is a problem that is having an effect right now, but that number drops to 40 percent among those without a college degree. Older Americans are less likely than those who are younger to think global warming's impact is urgent.
I really don't know the answer. But I'm not going to assume that a pro-planet majority is automatically a motivated pro-planet majority.