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People wait in line outside a polling place at the start of early voting on October 25, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Hottest US Senate Races on a Very Hot Planet

These contest in key states are all critical for climate-action, reproductive choice, and American democracy itself.

Vote Climate U.S. PAC's priority U.S. Senate races are all very close and could go either way on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th. They are all critical for climate-action, reproductive choice and American democracy itself. According to Cook Political Report, all of our priority candidates including: John Fetterman (D), Pennsylvania; U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D), Nevada; U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D), Georgia; U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D), Arizona and Mandela Barnes (D), Wisconsin, are in toss-up races.

There is no comparison between our priority candidates and their opponents on climate change.

Vote Climate U.S. PAC is the only website in the country to provide a climate change Voter's Guide for candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Governors and Statehouses (partial). (Always click the green + button for detailed research.) Like most Voter's Guides, we score incumbents on pivotal climate votes in Congress. We also assess a candidate's position: what do candidates say about the issue; leadership: what do they do; and putting a fee on carbon polluters. The average of those scores creates their Climate Calculation.

In 2022 for the first time, we indicate if a candidate supports Roe v. Wade. We see a strong connection between climate and choice, so while it is not part of our Climate Calculations, we have included support or opposition to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, in our national climate change voter's guide.

There is no comparison between our priority candidates and their opponents on climate change. Four of five of the opponents have a Climate Calculation of 7.5 or less and the other one scores 28.75, all failing grades on any scale. Every opponent opposes Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion and many of them are 2020 election deniers. These are the races that we believe will most advance climate action and reproductive choice.

In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman's (D) Climate Calculation is 92.5. He understands the importance of action on climate change as a top priority issue. On his official campaign website, Fetterman states, "I believe that climate change is an existential threat, and we need to transition to clean energy as quickly as possible."

In our 2020 Vote Climate U.S. PAC analysis of the partisan divide on Climate Calculations, with U.S. Senate challengers, the Republican mean was 17.7, the Democratic mean was 90.7, with a +73 difference for the Democrats. The partisan divide was worse for incumbents. And that was an improvement from the 2018 party analysis. Our 2022 partisan analysis will be available soon.

Still, Democrats have major room for improvement on the issue. America needs leadership for climate-specific legislation, like a fee on carbon polluters. For example, for a Climate Calculation of 100, candidate John Fetterman would need to take a strong, public position and advocate in favor of a U.S. fee on carbon polluters. His position is unclear. He seems to lean a bit heavily on fossil fuels, saying, "But we must [transition to clean energy] in a way that preserves the union way of life for the thousands of workers currently employed or supported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and the communities where they live." We must get off fossil fuels within a decade, if we hope to slow climate change. Fetterman supports Roe v. Wade. (See our Voter's Guide Scoring Criteria for Challengers for more information. Both candidates in this PA race are challengers, so they share the same criteria.)

John Fetterman's (D) Climate Calculation of 92.5 compares to his opponent whose overall Climate Calculation is an abysmal 7.5 out of a possible 100. The opponent disagrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is real and human-made, from burning fossil fuels. He opposes Roe.

In Nevada Catherine Cortez Master (D) has a Climate Calculation of 87.5. In a 2019 press release on climate change innovation, the Senator stated, "We cannot put off solutions to carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and we can't ignore the effects of climate change, visible all around us." She consistently votes pro-climate and shows leadership by making climate change a top priority issue. In a 'Medium' blog post the Senator wrote, "I'm also proud to support the Clean Energy for America Act, which would reduce carbon pollution over the next decade."

As an incumbent U.S. Senator, she received a 100 on her position, 100 on her climate votes, 100 on her leadership, but a 50 on her carbon fee score. She would need to take a strong position, advocating for a fee on carbon polluters for a Climate Calculation of 100. Her position on that issue is unclear. If she clarified that position, she could be Vote Climate U.S. PAC, Climate Hero. She supports Roe. (See Voter's Guide Scoring Criteria for Incumbents for more information.)

Her opponent has a Climate Calculation of 28.75 because he does not take a clear position on whether climate change is real and human-made, from burning fossil fuels and he has no known, or an inconsistent position on a U.S. carbon fee. He opposes Roe.

In Georgia, incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D) has a Climate Calculation of 81.25. For position, he got a score of 100. For votes, we picked 5 U.S. Senate votes and Senator Warnock received a 100 on votes. But for Vote Climate U.S. PAC, there is more to a Climate Calculation than what candidates say and how they vote. It's also about what they do, also known as leadership. If incumbents don't make public statements and advocate for action on climate change as a top priority issue, which would earn them a score of 100, but they do still advocate for climate action, they get a 75 on leadership, as Warnock does.

A carbon fee is a fee imposed on fossil fuels intended to dramatically reduce or eliminate the emission of carbon dioxide from those sources. A carbon fee would aid in the switch from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy and slow climate change and is a policy which Vote Climate U.S. PAC considers the singular, most effective.

For a Climate Calculation of 100, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, like many other of our priority candidates, would need to take a strong, public position and advocate in favor of a U.S. fee on carbon polluters. His position is unclear. Senator, your constituents and your country deserve to know where you stand on this issue. Since don't know, Senator Warnock got a 50 which means he has no known or inconsistent position on a U.S. carbon fee. Plus, we need stronger leadership on the issue of climate change.

Warnock's opponent has a ridiculously low Climate Calculation of 7.5 because despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, he disagrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is real and human-made, from burning fossil fuels. He has no known, or an inconsistent position on a U.S. carbon fee. He is a 2020 election denier. He not only opposes Roe, but he has been accused of paying for several abortions for his former girlfriends. Right-wingers don't care because he is a vote for them, regardless of his hypocrisy. Let's hope that swing voters care and progressives turn out on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.

Our priority candidate in Arizona, Senator Mark Kelly (D) has a Climate Calculation of 82.5. He understands the importance of climate action as a top priority issue. On his campaign website, it states "Mark has seen the planet change from space, and wanting to stop that and protect our state and our planet is part of what inspired him to run. Mark knows that if we harness the power of American ingenuity and determination, we can mitigate the risks of climate change."

Senator Mark Kelly has demonstrated leadership by advocating for climate action. In a 2019 Facebook post, Senator Kelly told, "Congress that we need immediate action on climate action." In an October 2021 interview with White Mountain Independent it said, "Regarding energy and climate change, Senator Kelly recognizes the role that traditional fossil fuels play in the production of electricity and the creation of jobs in Arizona. He also sees Arizona's drought and wildfire conditions being made worse by the effects of climate change." We do not know his position on a fee on carbon polluters. He supports Roe. His opponent has a Climate Calculation of 7.5. He opposes Roe.

In Wisconsin, priority candidate Mandela Barnes (D) Climate Calculation is 92.5. She understands the importance of action on climate change as a top priority issue. In a video on his official campaign website, Candidate Barnes states, "Climate change is already taking a toll on our communities, from our cities to our family farms. We've got once in a generation storms coming every year now. We need bold, powerful action to address climate change that breathes new life into the manufacturing industry." We don't know her position on a fee on carbon. She supports Roe. Her opponent demonstrates a lack of leadership with public statements, advocacy or votes against climate action. He opposes Roe.

Please use and share our Vote Climate U.S. PAC Voter's Guide for candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Governors and Statehouses (partial). (Always click the green + button for detailed research.). Vote Climate and Vote Choice on Tuesday, November 8th.