Change the Climate 2020

MEMO: Climate key to winning March 17th Democratic primaries

Mar 16, 2020

To: Interested Parties
From: Tiernan Sittenfeld, SVP of Government Affairs, League of Conservation Voters 
Date: March 16, 2020
Re: Climate key to winning March 17th Democratic primaries

Sunday night’s debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders reinforced just how important it is to have a president who believes in science and is prepared to take the action needed to protect our communities. Whether it’s battling the coronavirus or tackling climate change, we need leaders who understand inaction is simply not an option.

Democratic primary voters have consistently named climate change as the first or second most important issue throughout the 2020 campaign cycle. Results so far show that where candidates win climate voters, they win overall

The candidates have every reason to highlight their commitment to combat climate change ahead of Tuesday’s elections in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. 

Arizona is already seeing climate change threaten wildlife and shrink key water sources like the Colorado River. A new Arizona poll from LCV shows that climate, clean air and other environmental issues are top priorities for voters. 90% of Democratic primary voters in the state said climate was a very important or the most important issue. 86% said they would be more likely to support a candidate who will make climate a top issue for their administration and move to 100% clean energy. 84% support setting a national goal of protecting 30% of the United States’ land and oceans by 2030. And 46% said candidates for president are not talking about climate enough. 

Florida, the largest state voting on March 17, is uniquely vulnerable to climate change, with huge populations living on coasts already experiencing king tides and sea level rise. Voters understand that climate change will dramatically affect their future. Separate polls by LCV, Florida Atlantic University and Climate Nexus over the past year each showed majorities of overall voters believe climate is a significant issue and support climate action.

Meanwhile, climate impacts like increased toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes, and increased flooding from more frequent intense rainstorms affect both Illinois and Ohio. Voters in these midwestern states are asking for climate action. Climate Nexus polling in the fall showed 63% of all Ohio voters supported government action to combat climate change. In Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker recently called on the legislature to pass new clean energy legislation to eliminate carbon from the electricity sector by 2030.

Since early 2019, LCV’s Change the Climate 2020 program has called on every presidential candidate to prioritize addressing the climate crisis and its outsized impact on low-income communities and communities of color beginning on day one as president.