Protestors at last year's March for Science in Washington. Photo: Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A just-released paper from the Niskanen Center charts how Capitol Hill's partisan divide on the environment grew so stark in recent decades while offering a few reasons why GOP lawmakers' posture on climate could shift in the future.

Why it matters: The paper delves into demographic, economic and political forces that could eventually lead Republicans to moderate their positions.

  • Younger voters show more support for regulation than their elders, noting a GOP "generation gap" on climate. To be sure, though, a recent Pew survey showed that most millennial Republicans don't agree with the scientific mainstream on human-caused warming.
  • The fossil fuel industry represents a declining share of U.S. employment, and political giving to Republicans from renewable energy interests is growing.

One useful metric: The paper, by University of Maryland political scientist David Karol, uses League of Conservation Voters' annual rankings of lawmakers as a proxy for polarization.

Quoted: "Changes on the environment might actually prove easier for Republicans than modifying stands on issues like immigration, which connects directly to identity politics," he writes.

Be smart: Predictions of a shift in GOP lawmakers' stances on climate have been around for years, yet actual changes in posture have been very rare. Karol's paper isn't Pollyannish, but it offers a lucid look at how the landscape could eventually shift.

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NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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