None of the Democratic candidates even come close on climate change to where voters want them to be
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 presidential candidate, is currently battling the Democratic National Committee over whether it should hold a climate-focused debate.
- A progressive governor who previously served in Congress, Inslee is largely running a campaign that is almost singularly focused on climate change.
- New INSIDER polling shows that Inslee is actually at the center of the Democratic Party when it comes to climate policy, with a clear plurality of Democratic primary voters preferring a far more ambitious climate plan than the one Inslee has put out.
- 28.5% of respondents preferred a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 "by any means necessary," which is more ambitious than even Inslee's plan, which 19% of voters preferred.
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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 presidential candidate, is currently battling the Democratic National Committee over whether it should hold a Democratic primary debate focused on climate. But new INSIDER polling reveals that Inslee falls in the center of the Democratic primary electorate's views on how climate change should be tackled.
As the climate change crisis becomes more urgent by the day and scientists warn that time is running out to meaningfully address it, Democratic presidential candidates are rolling out competing plans to cut down carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs.
Inslee has been in public office for much of the last 30 years, and has been sounding the alarm about climate change the entire time. A progressive governor who previously served in Congress, Inslee is largely running a campaign that is almost singularly focused on climate change.
Out of all the climate plans in the Democratic field, Inslee's is by far the most ambitious and far-reaching, earning him the praise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the architect behind the Green New Deal resolution in the House of Representatives.
But new INSIDER polling shows that instead of being an outlier, Inslee is at the center of the Democratic Party when it comes to climate policy. A clear plurality of Democratic primary voters prefer a far more ambitious and expansive climate plan which seeks to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 over the plan that Inslee has put forth to achieve the same goal by 2045.
INSIDER asked 1,079 U.S. adults, "Out of the following options, which response to climate change would you prefer?"
- 29% of respondents preferred a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 "by any means necessary," which is more ambitious than Inslee's plan.
- 19% of respondents preferred Inslee's plan to invest $3 trillion over 10 years to get a net-zero carbon emissions energy grid by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions altogether by 2045.
- 13% of respondents preferred former Vice President Joe Biden's plan to invest $1.7 trillion over 10 years to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- 17% of respondents said they didn't believe the US needs to change current policy.
- 23% of respondents said they didn't know which plan they preferred.
Among those respondents who said they will likely vote in the Democratic primary, those numbers shift even further toward ambitious action not yet proposed by even the most climatologically ambitious Democratic contender.
- 42% prefer the most-ambitious net-zero by 2030 by any means necessary plan.
- 23% prefer the Inslee plan, which remains the most ambitious of any contender yet declared.
- 15% like the Biden proposal, 14% didn't know, and only 5% prefer no policy change.
This sets up a fascinating dynamic, where the median respondent who said they plan to vote in the Democratic primary backs the most ambitious proposal in the field, white 42% still crave even more immediate Green New Deal-style action.
For its part, the DNC has faced backlash for accusing Inslee of trying to monopolize the 2020 discussion with his preferred issue, even going so far as to threaten to exclude Inslee from all future DNC-sponsored debates if he participated in a climate debate hosted by an outside sponsor.
"As Chair of the DNC, I am committed to a fair, transparent, and inclusive 2020 Democratic primary process," DNC Chairman Tom Perez wrote in a Tuesday Medium post. "To that end, I concluded the DNC could not allow individual candidates to dictate the terms of debates or limit the topics discussed."
But Inslee and other climate activists argue that climate change is an urgent crisis threatening the health of the planet, an issue much bigger than one election or Inslee himself.
"The DNC won't recognize the climate crisis as an existential threat, but instead has chosen to treat it as a pet issue of one candidate," Inslee's campaign shot back at Perez in a Tuesday statement. "The climate debate isn't about one candidate, it's about our one planet," adding, "Democrats around the country want to drill down on real solutions and comprehensive plans, not bumper stickers and soundbites."
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,126 respondents collected June 7 to June 8 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.07 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.