Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Congressman Matt Gaetz announces the "Green Real Deal."

Congressman Matt Gaetz announces the "Green Real Deal." (Photo: Gaetz press office)

GOP in Danger of Losing Younger Generation of Voters Over Climate Policies: Report

"There are a lot of areas where millennials are a bit more progressive than I wish they were."

Eoin Higgins

Republicans may be overplaying their hand with unflinching opposition to the Green New Deal and losing the younger generation of voters. 

That's according to reporting from Politico, which found that some GOP strategists worry that the short term gain of using the public's confusion over the policy and wariness of the cost of restructuring the economy may be offset by the conservative movement becoming alienated from today's youth for years. 

"There are a lot of areas where millennials are a bit more progressive than I wish they were," said Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson. "Republicans need to do a better job of speaking to them."

But it's not just millennials. Per Politico:

A recent Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics survey found 74 percent of likely general election voters under 30 disapprove of President Donald Trump's climate change performance and 50 percent call climate change "a crisis" that "demands urgent action." Another 25 percent called it "a problem."

Recent polling (pdf) from CNN, as Common Dreams reported earlier this week, shows that the climate is the most important issue for Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. Some 96 percent of voters polled cited the crisis as either "very" or "somewhat" important. 

The debate has shifted enough in recent years that decades of Republican resistance to even acknowledging the issue are being cast aside in favor of acceptance. 

"Denying the basic existence of climate change is no longer a credible position," GOP consultant Whit Ayers told The New York Times on Wednesday.

But that doesn't mean Republican lawmakers—other than President Donald Trump, who once said climate change is a Chinese hoax plot to hurt American businesses—are embracing solutions like the Green New Deal. 

"The president is the leading policymaker for better or for worse," said Rory Cooper, a lobbyist with ties to former Republican leadership, "and this is not a priority of his administration."

Still, Politico reported, there's an opportunity for Republicans, even among younger voters. 

But other polling conducted by the progressive firm Data for Progress revealed some weaknesses the GOP hopes to use to its advantage. Proposals to make all cars electric by 2030 and eliminate fossil fuel production by 2035 are unpopular.

Another factor in the mix of political calculations is that young voters have historically voted in lower numbers. At the same time their turnout ratio increased by 16 points in 2018, and there's reason to believe that uptick will continue next year.

GOP attempts to deliver an alternative to the Green New Deal have been spotty at best. The most concrete retort thus far was legislation from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the Green Real Deal, that provides funding to research the crisis while removing regulations for energy infrastructure.

Gaetz, in April, said that "history will judge harshly" members of the Republican Party who deny the existence of climate change. 

"Similarly, those Democrats who would use climate change as a basis to regulate out of existence the American experience will face the harsh reality that their ideas will fail," added Gaetz. 

The Florida representative, who is a solid Trump ally, also supports abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency. 

No matter what solution the GOP comes to, however, the party is already looking to the future in how it deals with an outcome where the Democrats get their way on climate. 

"If my friends on the other side ultimately get what they want," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), "they'll probably choke on it politically the way they did healthcare in 2010."


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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Denounces Shelling of Ukraine Nuclear Plant as 'Suicidal'

To avert a public health calamity, Ukrainian officials are calling for the Zaporizhzhia site to be demilitarized and run by a team of peacekeepers.

Kenny Stancil ·


Big Pharma Bemoans 'Tragic Loss' as Democrats Take Modest Action to Curb Drug Prices

Patient advocates, meanwhile, applauded passage of the Inflation Reduction Act as a "historic victory for consumers and a historic defeat for Big Pharma's monopoly control."

Jake Johnson ·


Sanders Says Senate Bill 'Nowhere Near' Enough as Dems, GOP Tank His Amendments

The Vermont senator nevertheless supported final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it "a step forward" on climate and drug prices.

Jake Johnson ·


Senate Barely Approves Scaled Back Legislation on Climate, Taxes, Healthcare

But thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), there was a huge, last-minute win for the private equity and hedge fund industries

Common Dreams staff ·


'What the Hell is Wrong With Them': GOP Senators Kill $35 Cap on Insulin

'Republicans told millions of Americans who use insulin to go to hell.'

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo