If Joe Manchin gets what he wants from Biden and his Democratic Senators over climate policy in negotiations with the White House, which now seems likely, it could have devastating effects on the planet – and the outlook for Democrats in 2022.
How come? Let’s answer that question by asking and answering two more questions.
First: Can you name a topic that young people – an increasingly important and often decisive electoral block – are enthusiastic about? When the 2020 U.S. Mayors’ Conference polled potential voters between the ages of 18 and 29, 80 percent said the climate crisis was “a major threat to human life on earth as we know it”. With a lead of 3: 1, young people said “bold action” must be taken to address this threat.
Second, name the issue that the Democrats are now downplaying on the Build Back Better agenda in order to win the support of the West Virginia Senator? The Biden administration is definitely Prepare the cut from the budget plan the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), a major climate initiative that would use a combination of incentives and mandates to encourage utility companies to use renewable energy.
Much of that serious reporting on this issue has focused on the devastating impact the loss of these clean energy provisions could have on the upcoming climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Without it, it will be more difficult for Biden to make convincing promises to cut US CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2030. That could undermine the negotiations on this issue, so Michael Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. So serious is the threat that Mann greeted news of Manchin’s attempt to abandon the CEPP with the statement: “Joe Manchin has just fired a hand grenade in Glasgow.”
House President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi say they will continue to focus on global warming concerns. But MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) is right when she is argued that clear action to reduce emissions “is not something to step on the line”.
Young people know that. They understand the difference between “bold action” on the climate and just being hot air. Promises won’t be enough to mobilize mass participation from these voters in 2022, who are far more likely to cast democratic ballots than older voters. Without this mass participation, the democratic prospects will dim.
The Democrats are already on uncertain ground ahead of next year’s elections. A so-called “midterm curse” often costs the party that holds the White House seats in Congress. With a 50:50 tie in the Senate and a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats cannot afford losses. You have to defeat the curse. For this, however, as in 2018 and 2020, they need the support of young people.
“Half of Americans aged 18 to 29 cast a vote in the 2020 general election, one of the highest youth electoral rates in recent history and an 11-point increase over 2016 (from 39% to 50%),” it said the Center for information and research on civic learning and engagement. That turnout gave Biden a decisive boost as voters aged 18-29 preferred the Democrats by an overwhelming 60-36 lead over then-President Donald Trump. For those 18-24 year olds, the margin rose to 65-31 inches the CNN exit poll.
Even more important to the Democrats was the role young voters played in the last mid-term election.
As Tom Bonier, CEO of the Political Data Analysis Group AimSmart said the youth election lagged more than any other group with just 7.2 percent of the vote. “The bottom line? The Republicans won the national referendum for the US House of Representatives by nearly 6 points, adding 13 seats to their already sizeable majority. The GOP also won 9 seats in the US Senate,” said Bonier.
“In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, no age group saw a larger increase in turnout than voters under 30,” he added. “The youth election drove the Blue Wave as this group gave the Democrats an almost 2 to 1 lead. In the end, voters under 30 made up 11.4% of all votes cast, an increase of 4.2 points from their 2014 vote. Of course, the Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018 and won the national referendum with almost 9 points – a deviation of almost 15 points compared to the previous mid-term elections. ”
Democrats will need this or more support from young people in 2022. But it is far from certain that they will get it.
Survey earlier this year by Hart Research Associates for the Voters of the League of Nature Conservation found that young voters “want and expect climate action, and the lack of such action would seriously jeopardize the Democratic candidates who will win their votes next year”.
At this point, according to a poll memo from Hart’s Geoff Garin, Jay Campbell and Corrie Hunt.44 percent of young voters are unsure whether they will vote in 2022. “However,” the memo adds, “79 percent of young Democrats say they would be MUCH more motivated to vote for Democrats in 2022 if Democrats take strong climate action changes to address the root causes of global warming. ”
“Climate and clean energy measures will not only motivate these important target groups to vote, but can also help arouse enthusiasm for democratic candidates,” says the memo.
Inaction, on the other hand, runs the risk of stifling enthusiasm in the midterm elections, a prospect Democrats cannot afford if they hope to govern courageously throughout Joe Biden’s tenure. The results of past elections show us that Democrats suffer some of their worst setbacks if they fail to deliver on their promises of progress – as happened in 1994 during the first term of Bill Clinton and in 2010 during the first term of Barack Obama.
History doesn’t lie. The latest polls on what mobilizes young voters do not either. The more the Democrats bow to Joe Manchin’s demands, the more likely they are to lose Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.