In Iowa, Climate Change Is Shaping the Presidential Race — Other Early Primary States Too

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.

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