This poll, of course, was sponsored by an advocacy organization, so take that into account. Also note that these findings don’t tell us whether this would be an effective electoral issue against Johnson, who is not up until 2016. The LCV genuinely wants to gauge whether it’s possible to hold lawmakers accountable for climate denialism over the long haul, in a way that begins to impact public perceptions of them. “The question is, ‘How much does this become another way in which people view their Member of Congress as out of touch and extreme?’ “ Garin said. “The issue is important enough to change attitudes.”
The larger story here is that, even as the prospects for Congressional action on climate change remain bleak, some Democrats, even in swing states, are increasingly seeing benefits in talking publicly about the issue. As Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal has detailed, climate change is one of a number of issues — including gay marriage, immigration, and gun control — that are prioritized by core Democratic groups, such as young voters, minorities and college educated whites. Democrats are increasing embracing these priorities — even if so doing alienates the downscale, culturally conservative whites that are growing less important to Democratic electoral success — to appeal to that “coalition of the ascendant,” and to cast the GOP as unable to move into the 21st century.
“This is really an experiment,” Garin says, “to understand the impact of the issue going forward.”