Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.)

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) lose voter support if they face progressive primary challengers in 2020, according to new polling. (Photos:

New Polling Shows House Democrats Who Won't Back Green New Deal Could Be Ousted by Progressives in 2020

"Just how popular is the #GreenNewDeal? So popular that opposing it opens Democrats up to serious primary challenges."

Jessica Corbett

In a signal that Democratic voters aren't satisfied with timid steps to address the human-made global climate crisis, new polling from Data for Progress—initially reported by HuffPost on Thursday—shows that incumbent congressional candidates in 2020 could be ousted by progressive primary challengers if they fail to back a Green New Deal.

Championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a growing collective of Democratic lawmakers and climate campaigners, a Green New Deal would combine efforts to curb global warming and create a more just economy through generating clean energy jobs and other initiatives. Such a deal, however, has been met with opposition from more conservative Democrats.

The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has organized protests at congressional offices in recent weeks to encourage House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats to support a Green New Deal, celebrated the new polling results in a tweet:

The movement has called on Pelosi to pursue bold climate action that aligns with the latest science, or to step aside so more ambitious lawmakers can take the lead. Pelosi, for her part, has pushed for a pay-go rule for the House that opponents say will hinder Medicare for All and a Green New Deal as well as a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that critics denounce as a "toothless" stand-in for a committee dedicated to crafting such a deal.

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), meanwhile, has unsuccessfully fought to replace Pelosi with someone more conservative and has not publicly backed mounting calls for the Democratically-controlled House to work on a Green New Deal. The new polling, conducted Dec. 17 to Dec. 27, suggests such positions could have major consequences come 2020.

In Rice's Long Island district, 300 likely Democratic primary voters were told that Rice "does not currently support a Green New Deal," and asked about how a candidate's position on a plan "to invest trillions of dollars into the development and distribution of green energy, creating millions of new high-wage jobs while preventing catastrophic climate change" would impact their decisions in the ballot box during the next primary.

green new deal

Although Rice has a high approval rating in New York's 4th District and she told HuffPost that she supports "robust federal investment in energy-efficient infrastructure projects and training for green energy jobs," a plurality of respondents, 47 percent, indicated that they would back a candidate who supports a Green New Deal.

"The strongest margin of support are older suburban women," noted Evan Roth Smith of Slingshot Strategies, which conducted the survey for Data for Progress. "That is the constituency for a Green New Deal in her district."

However, polling from Massachusetts' 6th District, currently represented by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), shows that Democrats who have backed the Green New Deal but are more centrist and opposed Pelosi's bid for speaker—even if they ultimately voted for her—could also face progressive challengers in 2020. Moulton had a 61 percent favorable rating among 300 likely Democratic primary voters, according to The Daily Beast. "But when pitted against other prospective Democratic challengers, only 49 percent said that they would back him. Of those surveyed, 29 percent said they were not sure."

As Smith put it: "Seth Moulton is in real political trouble over his hesitancy to vote for Pelosi... Moulton will be forced to defend his political decision making, and is clearly vulnerable to potential primary challengers who are already registering double-digit support."

Though he has endorsed a Green New Deal, "Moulton faces a real risk from his opposition to Medicare for All," Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee told The Daily Beast. "The base is ready. When a primary challenger emerges, I'd bet on them."

Meanwhile, on Long Island, a potential challenger to Rice—who took tens of thousands of campaign dollars from Donald Trump before he was elected president—already has emerged. Nassau County activist Siela Bynoe reportedly is considering a bid to challenge the incumbent in the 2020 primary.

Perhaps the most well known recent instance of a progressive beating out a more conservative Democrat is Ocasio-Cortez's stunning primary upset against longtime Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley last June. Looking forward, McElwee told HuffPost, "People like Ocasio-Cortez are more than willing to primary a Democrat for not supporting a Green New Deal."

This post has been amended to reflect the fact that Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has endorsed a Green New Deal.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·

To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo