Because we have a mainstream media environment that is largely narrative-based, the first primaries of primary season are always wildly important. A lead creates its own form of momentum, where each victory becomes progressively easier as the press hands out more free air time that helps familiarize a candidate with the electorate. Once the primary gets rolling, policy will become a much bigger factor than it is right now at the personality-based stage of the primary decision process, and voters will demand representation on the major issues of the day.
Which brings me to the most ambitious plan yet to save the world from irreversible climate change, the Green New Deal. A new poll by Hart Research Associates/Normington-Petts of likely primary/caucus voters in California, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina revealed that a candidate who backs the Green New Deal can gain a lot of ground with a lot of voters. Like…A LOT:
If a candidate has a plan to move the United States to one-hundred-percent clean energy by the year 2050, would you be much more likely to support that candidate, somewhat more likely to support that candidate, somewhat less likely to support that candidate, much less likely to support that candidate, or would it not make a difference for you either way?
Much more likely — 46%
Somewhat more likely — 37%
Somewhat less likely — 2%
Much less likely — 1%
No difference either way — 12%
Not sure — 2%
According to this poll, there is basically no downside to backing the Green New Deal. Just three percent of voters say they will punish a candidate for it, while 83% say embracing the plan will make them more likely to vote for a politician. What we as voters must now realize is that if there is no downside to backing this aggressive proposal to meet the overwhelming and unprecedented threat to life on Earth that is climate change, then all politicians will back it, since their job is to get our votes.
Because we have a political system more accountable to its donors than its voters, there will certainly be those who don’t back it despite it being a clear winner with the voting public, and they will be declaring their allegiance to the status quo bringing about the apocalypse instead of the people who so desperately want to prevent it. For once in millennials’ lifetimes, the Democratic Party is running with our agenda, and the key factor isn’t going to be getting candidates to simply say they back the Green New Deal, but who we can trust to actually try to implement this wildly ambitious and unprecedented plan to save the world. It’s official: there is no topic in the world where there is a wider disparity between the difficulty of talking the talk and walking the walk, and to differentiate themselves, candidates will need to explain in detail how they actually plan to make good on their gigantic promise.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.