The answer is immediate: not all citizens care the same and, even among those who care, there are differences in form and substance. In environmental matters and combating climate change, the opinion of those who vote in the most important democracy in the world is relevant because the social and political trends that crystallize there will end up happening in many other parts of the world. Without the United States decisively promoting these issues, the international environmental agenda would face (as it did during the Donald Trump administration) an uphill climb.

This year is a midterm election and things are not looking good for President Joe Biden’s party.

Currently, control of Congress depends on a few legislators who give the majority to the Democratic Party and the districts that can decide the balance of power next November are highly competitive, with divided opinions on climate change, the regulation of emissions of carbon, green taxes, incentives for the electric vehicle industry, among many others. Even with a Democrat in the White House, America’s room for action on climate issues would be limited without the cooperation of the legislative branch.

Based on data from the Yale University climate change communication program, disaggregated at the level of the 435 federal electoral districts, it was possible to model the electoral preferences of US citizens regarding environmental issues. The results are intriguing: Districts won by Democrats (blue) correlate strongly with recognition that climate change is caused by human action (no surprise there), and those won by Republicans (red) tend to deny the existence of climate change. environmental phenomenon altogether. However, there is a large group of highly competitive “purple” districts that have mixed views on taxes on carbon dioxide emissions, clean energy subsidies and oil drilling. This last issue is particularly striking because, while a solid majority of people in both parties are against drilling oil wells in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (which is federal land, not the state of Alaska), the consensus is much less clear in the case of new offshore deepwater wells (nobody remembers the Deepwater Horizon incident anymore). Here environmentalist idealism is confronted with the economic imperatives of the citizens surveyed, recent international tensions have strengthened the latter.

There are extreme cases, such as the 14th district of Georgia, which is precisely one of the most conservative in the country and whose representative is the controversial Marjorie Taylor Greene. Not surprisingly, most of its citizens favor oil drilling in all circumstances and are against any presidential action to combat global warming.

There are also atypical cases, those that defy trends. It is the 27th district of Florida that circumscribes an important part of the county of Miami – Dade and the 11th of New York that includes Staten Island. Both are represented by Republicans, but their residents show strong support for the environmental policies of the federal government. The two geographical areas were hit by climatic phenomena during the last ten years, a fact that explains this statistical peculiarity and glimpses the hope for the depoliticization of the environmental issue.

A fact to be optimistic: regardless of partisan preference, more than half of the citizenry recognizes the reality of climate change. The problem? Consensus has not yet reached all corners of the political map.



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