To: Interested Parties
From: John Tynan, Executive Director, Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Date: February 24, 2020
Re: Ahead of South Carolina primary, climate is top issue for voters and candidates
The South Carolina Democratic presidential primary is upon us, and addressing climate change is a top issue for South Carolinians, according to a January poll by Conservation Voters of South Carolina and Audubon Action Fund. In fact, the majority of South Carolina voters on both sides of the aisle view climate as a serious problem and want action – the poll found that 64% of all South Carolinians think climate change is a serious problem. In addition, there is strong support for bold solutions – by a 2 to 1 margin, voters from both sides of the aisle support a move to 100% clean energy by 2050 (50-24), with Democrats overwhelming supporting this goal with 71% support.
Hailed as the “First in the South” primary, the South Carolina primary serves as an important test of support from African American voters, who make up a majority of the Democratic vote in the state. Among African American voters in South Carolina, climate remains a top concern. Climate change is seen as a serious problem by 89% of black voters with 72% of black voters supporting a move to 100% clean energy by 2050.
These South Carolina findings follow the trend of entrance and exit polling in the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary, and Nevada caucuses, where climate change was a top-tier issue for Democratic voters and caucus-goers. Just four years after there was not a single general election debate question about climate policy, the majority of the 2020 Democratic field prioritized talking to South Carolina voters about their climate and clean energy plans as they crisscrossed the state. In fact, all of the leading candidates have released comprehensive plans to combat the climate crisis that are based on science, rooted in equity, and prioritize justice.
Climate change is clearly front and center in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary as these recent Palmetto State focused headlines illustrate:
In early 2019, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) – a national partner of CVSC – launched a $3.1 million effort, Change the Climate 2020, to ensure the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee is committed to immediate action on climate. In South Carolina, CVSC staff and volunteers have attended more than 50 candidate events and asked more than 20 climate questions directly of candidates. In other early states, LCV staff and volunteers have attended more than 100 candidate events and asked more than 60 climate questions directly of candidates. Check out videos of LCV and CVSC interactions with candidates here, and for everything the candidates have said and done on climate change (with a filter for SC-specific news) visit changetheclimate2020.com.
Highlights: Candidates prioritizing climate in the lead-up to South Carolina:
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Elizabeth Warren