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There is a growing interest in climate change among Iowa voters and as a result, according to Time Magazine, Democratic candidates have become increasingly attuned to climate issues as they crisscross the state. New polling from Yale and George Mason universities shows that 67% of adults in Iowa believe in climate change and 60% are worried about it. These impacts may be based on personal experience — 42% believe that global warming will hurt them personally. Time notes that the issues surrounding climate change come up in Iowa in two ways. In rural areas, the future for farms in a climate-changed world often is the subject of questions for presidential candidates, and many have adopted climate plans that address these issues in detail. In urban areas, voters are concerned about water quality because, as we reported last spring, excessive rain and flooding last spring caused chemicals from agricultural soil to run off into the water supply.
Why This Matters: For Democrats in Iowa and across the country, climate change as an issue ranks second only to health care. In Iowa it is easy to see why. As Time put it, “[t]hrow a dart at a map of the state, and you’re likely to hit a place that has flooded in recent years. In the past year alone, nearly 40% of Iowans have personally experienced anxiety over extreme weather or know a family member who has, according to a July survey from Climate Nexus.” That kind of disruption and anxiety is bound to spark political interest. And increasingly, as farmers recognize the benefits of sustainable agriculture practices and developing wind power on what used to be farmland, they are seeing that change is needed and can even be good for them.
Climate Change Factors In Other Early Primary States Too
Here is the rundown of other early primary states with climate issues on the minds of voters according to Time:
“In New Hampshire, a $9 billion recreation industry is vulnerable as ski runs melt early and local lakes face a potential decline in water quality.”
“Scientists say parts of Nevada, the third state on the Democratic primary calendar, could be virtually unlivable by the end of the century; Las Vegas is warming faster than any other major city in the country.”
“In South Carolina, the fourth state where Democrats will vote in 2020, coastal cities flood regularly and inland rivers are often inundated.” Not to mention the impacts of recent storms like Hurricane Dorian that are top of mind to cities like Charelston.
Nationwide there is still a big gap between Democrats and Republicans on climate change, however. According to another recent poll by Climate Nexus with Yale and George Mason, 90% of Democratic voters say they are concerned about climate change, compared with 44% of Republicans.
Montana’s Senate race is a toss-up, according to the Cook Political Report, because the popular Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, has managed to put incumbent Senator Steve Daines on the defensive over a deal he orchestrated in which Montana ranchers were to supposed sell $200m in beef to China’s second-largest company, JD.com, and the company was going to build a $100m processing plant in Montana.
Virtual organizing has allowed NGOs like NextGen America to focus their attention on rural, young BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voters — a demographic that has been historically underrepresented in elections in the U.S. These voters have brought climate change and sustainable farming to the forefront of the election in places rural Iowa.
Why this Matters: In 2018, only 2 percent of rural voters ages 18 to 29 voted in the midterm elections.
Thanks to some help from the Lincoln Project and self-inflicted wounds that have put Republican incumbent Senator Dan Sullivan on the defensive, in Alaska the challenger, Dr. Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon, is making a strong run.
Why This Matters: The Pebble Mine project is opposed by a majority of Alaskans because of the harm it could cause to the extremely valuable Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery, and to pristine Alaskan wilderness.
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