Congressional Candidates and Energy Efficiency: Intentionally Vague?
As our nation prepares to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, it’s important we identify which issues are most important to us and whether our candidate(s) of choice represent us well. Is energy policy an issue that resonates with you? Do you know where your candidates stand as you cast your ballot on November 4?
A September poll from the Pew Research Center, showed that among registered voters the environment ranked eighth out of 11 issues. Despite the rather bleak outlook on the environment's ranking among other issues, there is a bit of good news. A closer look reveals that 69% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans say it’s “very important” to their vote, so we know that it does at least carry some weight on Election Day.
Partisan (Blurred) Lines
Although it’s tempting to make sweeping generalizations about how Republicans and Democrats might vote on energy issues and climate change, a closer examination is in order. Here are some tidbits from the Brookings Institute to consider:
- 60% of House Republican candidates don’t take a clear position on climate change
- Several Democrats in important races either oppose carbon emissions mitigation or downplay their support of climate policies
So why can't our politicians draw a line in the sand when it comes to their stances on energy issues? Are they being intentionally vague or is the issue so complicated that they genuinely can't answer certain questions without some degree of ambiguity?
According to The 2014 Congressional Primaries: Who Ran and Why, a study by the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings, over 50% of House Democratic candidates supported efforts to combat climate change and/or the EPA during the primaries, while only 2% of Republicans did. Conversely, less than 1% of Democratic candidates opposed climate change mitigation, while 29% of Republican primary candidates did. Both sides somewhat dodged the issue, with 49% of Democrats saying it was complicated or not mentioning the issue, compared to 69% of Republicans.
Big money, bigger implications
Environmental ads have gained momentum this year, with big money being spent in Kentucky, Michigan, Colorado, and other states. This trend will almost certainly have an impact on the 2016 presidential race as billionaires start fronting serious dough to back their candidates.
What's happening in your state? Anyone with a TV feels the onslaught of these ads during any given election year, but the NY Times recently published a great piece showing how energy ads break out by state and by issue should you want to see a comparison.
Part of our mission at WegoWise is to help our partners track and benchmark their energy use. On a larger scale, we also try to educate on energy efficiency and its importance to climate change and energy policy.
If you fancy yourself an environmentalist and want to get educated on your candidate's stance on energy issues, here are some great resources to tap into:
- Sierra Club Voter Guide
- NRDC Action Fund
- League of Conservation Voters’ 2013 Environmental Scorecard
Rock the Vote!
Regardless of where you stand on energy efficiency, get out and vote. It’s your right. Not sure where to vote? Check out www.vote411.org. Enter your address and it returns your polling location in a snap.