Home Energy and Environment Votes for Clean Energy, Climate Bill Did NOT Defeat Democrats

Votes for Clean Energy, Climate Bill Did NOT Defeat Democrats


Thanks to great work by NRDC’s Rob Perks, we can dispose of the theory that Democrats’ votes for clean energy/climate legislation — which Republicans demonized as “cap and tax” (despite it being their own idea!)  — hurt them at the polls on Tuesday. In fact:

…a whopping 84% of Democratic representatives who voted for the House climate bill won their elections yesterday.  (This does not include four races that are still too close to call as of this writing.)  On the other hand, nearly 60% of those who voted against the bill went down in defeat. (This excludes two races that were not decided as of this writing.)

Here in Virginia, Glenn Nye voted “no” on ACES (and also “no” on health care reform) and lost on Tuesday. Gerry Connolly voted “yes” on ACES and won on Tuesday.  On the other hand, Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello voted “yes” on ACES and lost on Tuesday. In the case of Perriello, it’s extremely unlikely that vote had anything to do with his defeat, as you barely even heard it mentioned by the Hurt campaign.

What about Rick Boucher?  Now, that’s an interesting case – possibly the proverbial “exception that proves the rule?” – and one worth looking into further. My guess is that Boucher was hurt somewhat by his vote for “cap and trade” in “coal country,” but he was hurt even worse by his failure to explain what role he played in that bill – watering it down and larding it up with the coal industry wish list; basically, doing what the coal industry corporate overlords wanted, then getting little if any credit (or support) from them for doing so. Ouch.

P.S. I’d love to see this same analysis for health care reform.

UPDATE: Statistical analysis backs up NRDC’s case, big time.

  • According to the New York Times, when it comes to health care reform, “Among 22 [Democrats] who provided crucial yes votes from particularly risky districts, 19 ended up losing on Tuesday.” However, “even the Democrats who bucked the White House and their party’s leadership by voting against the measure gained little protection. Of the 30 Democrats who opposed the final bill and then stood for re-election, 17 lost anyway.”  In sum, “among 49 Democratic incumbents who lost on Tuesday, 32 had voted for the health care law and 17 against it.”

  • Dan Sullivan

    Nate Silver discussed incumbency as one of the 5 reasons the Republicans might do well. Even Ike Skelton was swept out of office in Missouri. He’d never won less than 62% of the vote in 34 years.

    The Republicans played the cards as they were dealt by district. And based upon the district, they laid the card or cards that trumped. This was a thumping with many fathers on the GOP side, while credit for the Democratic performance remains an orphan.

  • Was listening to local reporters discuss Boucher’s loss on the radio. They didn’t mention the clean energy & climate bill at all. The first thing they mentioned was the $1.2 million in outside special interest spending against Boucher. The second thing they mentioned was Boucher’s inability to effectively respond to those attacks, which helped them stick. The third thing they mentioned was, hello, it’s an extremely conservative district & a Dem couldn’t hold that seat forever.  

  • Cool_Arrow

    I like the analysis but one thing that this doesn’t take into account (which is impossible to really measure) is the district from where these votes came from. Jim Moran and Bobby Scott have little to fear with their votes apart from a challenge from the left whereas Glenn Nye, Tom Perriello and Gerry Connolly were freshmen elected from “swing” districts.

    I think what these last 2 years have hopefully taught the Administration is that they need to package incremental reforms and not go for the big bill. Going for incremental progress that builds to something is going to make opposing it just about impossible. How would the GOP message against a bill designed to increase energy efficiency in public schools? I know they’ll think of something but that is where you defend yourself. Now that Orange is leading that House that will be harder if not impossible to do but never defending what they did and developing a clear and cohesive message is what sank them. I guarantee you that if Tom Perriello were in Connolly’s district that the outcome would have been easily known on Tuesday and he would have won by several percent. Tom was able to develop a clear message of what he did and why he did it and while he lost he outperformed the national vote average (GOP won by about 6% nationwide) in a conservative leaning district. If only more were like him and at least defended what they did and developed a message our losses would have been significantly less.  

  • Venu

    The people who votes yes had less to fear in the first place…

  • Mike1987

    How many “blue dog” Dems lost vice “progressive” Dems? Blue Dogs forcing compromise on everything, watering down everything made it simple, vote for a real bagger or a faux-bagger (blue dog). In other words, fight for your convictions vice always always compromise and stop being afraid.