Bernie Sanders Staking His Campaign In Iowa on the GND and Climate Change

Senator Bernie Sanders is seeking to re-frame his Presidential campaign in Iowa on the issue of climate change with a huge ad buy there touting his support for the Green New Deal (see below) and a climate summit to be held this weekend with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez attending.  Vox reports that Sanders’s Iowa State Director said, “[w]e think climate change is the way we win the caucuses….This is an issue that more and more Iowans can’t ignore.”

Why This Matters: Climate change has fallen out of the debate since the Our Daily Planet and MSNBC climate forum in mid-September.  Sanders has consistently been in the top 3 candidates in Iowa so his focus on the climate issues will ensure that they are discussed again — and that is good news.  But by staking his campaign on the issue of climate change, he is, in essence, putting climate on the ballot and that is a “gamble” that could prove dispositive for the issue if he does not do well in the caucuses.

Climate Chicken and Egg Problem

Since Governor Jay Inslee dropped out several months ago, no other candidate has taken up the climate change mantle until now.  The Deputy State Director for the Sanders campaign in Iowa explains their thinking:

“There is a chicken and egg situation. Either it doesn’t win because people aren’t talking about it or people aren’t talking about it because it doesn’t win.  Our campaign looks at that and says, we seem to know thousands of Iowans whose houses were flooded, so we are going to talk about it.”

As we have reported recently, an August poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication found that about 70 percent of Iowa voters polled were worried about climate change, and 74 percent were concerned about its impact on the state’s agriculture.

Betting on Youth and Climate Jobs

The climate gambit is a youth play for sure — as one can see from the line up of young people appearing at the summit.  But the question is whether the Sanders campaign can get young people to turn out in numbers at the caucus.  So according to Vox, the Sanders campaign will try to also focus on how addressing the climate crisis through a Green New Deal plan could boost the economy and create good new jobs.

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