Biden Cleans Up In Arizona, Florida & Illinois: Did He Continue To Win “Climate Voters”?

Photo from video: ABC News

Former Vice President Biden continued to rack up primary victories on Tuesday, winning big in both Florida (where Biden won every county) and Illinois, while Sanders lost ground versus his vote totals in both states compared to 2016. Biden also won Arizona.  Young voters are not turning out in the numbers Sanders’ campaign expected — but this week the depressed youth turnout could be because many colleges have closed leaving students scrambling to move out and head home.  Interestingly, however, if this week is consistent with the results from Super Tuesday, then a higher percentage of voters who identified as “climate voters” will vote for VP Joe Biden than will vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Preliminary CNN exit polls showed that climate change was one of the top three issues in all three states — health care was first (not surprising – especially now), and climate and income inequality were the next most important issues.  

Why This Matters:  Climate change continues to struggle as an issue with the mainstream media, but not Democratic voters.  Just yesterday, E&E News asked the rhetorical question whether climate as an issue will lose its currency in this year’s election campaign if young people continue to fail to increase their turnout.  The answer might be yes if you assume that climate voters are predominantly Sanders voters, but the results from Super Tuesday actually do not support that conclusion since exit polls showed that Biden outperformed Sanders among climate voters. It appears that the demographic of people who identify as climate voters may be expanding.  African Americans and suburban women, the Biden base vote, also strongly support taking action now to address the climate crisis.  There also may be young climate voters who do not consider themselves climate activists who are voting for Biden.  The bottom line is that climate change remains a top tier issue for Democrats who are voting overwhelmingly for Vice President Biden, and that trend is likely to continue through the general election.

Climate Voters Propelling Biden

It is too early to tell what exactly happened yesterday, but on Super Tuesday climate voters preferred Biden 34% to Sanders’ 28%, according to The Washington PostThe Post’s Energy 202’s take on it was that prior to Super Tuesday “Biden bolstered his support among those most concerned about climate change by talking up his role in brokering the 2015 Paris climate accord and promising to keep the United States in the agreement.”  Interestingly, one of the most pointed exchanges between the two at last Sunday’s debate came over the Paris Agreement.  Biden promised to financially sanction countries that didn’t live up to their commitments under the agreement.  In response, Senator Sanders seemed dismissive of the agreement saying, “It’s not a question of re-entering the Paris accord. That’s fine. Who cares. It’s not a big deal,” as he was attempting to point out the need for more sweeping measures.

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