Prof. Aseem Prakash and colleague Prof. Nives Dolšak argue that the 2020 elections raise red flags for climate policy. This was supposed to be a climate election but turned out to be a “COVID-19 versus the economy” election.
Exit polls suggest that Democrats and Republicans are divided on the urgency to tackle the climate crisis. America is at war with itself. On one side is the sushi crowd: the cosmopolitan urbanites who work in the internet economy, watch SNL, and listen to NPR. On the other side is the steak crowd: rural, holding blue-collar jobs, or working in the low-paying service sector, who watch ESPN and Fox News.
The Edison Research exit poll covered by major media outlets asked whether climate change was a serious problem and that 68% of these were Biden voters and only 29% were Trump voters. Of the 32% who did not consider climate change to be a serious problem, 84% were Trump voters. Thus, climate change is mired in the ideological divide. Climate action supporters should recognize that the citizens of the (Divided) States of America seem to have voted for a change, not a revolution. While Biden could pursue some climate policies through Executive Orders and Agency action, deep decarbonization will need new legislation. The good news is that several policies enjoy such support including subsidies for renewables (Red states lead in wind energy), subsidies for EV vehicles, R&D in new technologies, and active forest management policies.