May 16, 2018

Why climate politics might not be stuck forever

Ben Geman, author of Generate

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.

Go deeper

The cracks in Trump’s GOP shield

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump’s mockery of coronavirus masks, his false claims about the dangers of voting by mail and his insinuations that a cable TV nemesis was involved in a murder are testing more high-profile Republicans' willingness to look the other way.

The big picture: Republicans learned a long time ago how dangerous it is to alienate Trump’s base — which is why any hint of disagreement, even a whisper, is so remarkable when it happens.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between law enforcement and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.