Frank Luntz: Now Republicans support action on climate change

Frank Luntz was credited with helping George Bush block action on climate change. He now says there is bipartisan support for US cutting climate change emissions.

The leading Republican pollster who is credited with assisting the Republicans in blocking action on climate change during the Bush years now says he thinks there is strong bipartisan support for the US to curb its climate change emissions.

A New York Times editorial in 2003 explained, “Whenever the Republicans find themselves in trouble on environmental issues, the call goes out for Frank Luntz” and in that year Luntz made headlines when he prepared a memo – ‘The Environment: a cleaner, safer, healthier America’ – for the Republican leadership on how to win “the environmental communications battle,” and it was leaked to the press.

The New Republic remembers how Frank Luntz used to be known as the guy who wrote a 2002 memo advising the Bush administration to “make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate [about global warming].” But now Frank Luntz writes:

“A clear majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. This is true of McCain voters and Obama voters alike. And even those that don’t still believe it is essential for America to pursue policies that promote energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment.

“Americans want clean, safe, healthy, secure energy.  That’s why Republicans and Democrats alike strongly support action to address climate change.  Sure, Republicans are more concerned about the national security component and Democrats the health component, but support for action right now spans all partisan and ideological lines.”

Mother Jones reports that Luntz is now advising American environment groups on how to better communicate the climate issue, notably by not mentioning climate change! reports this afternoon that Obama’s chief pollster, Joel Benenson, agrees on the level of bipartisan support for climate action after polling he conducted in 16 battleground states. He writes:

“As 2010 begins, public support for an energy and climate bill remains strong. Overall, 58% of likely 2010 voters support the bill and just 37% oppose it when told the following:

‘This past summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy bill that limits pollution and greenhouse gas emissions through what’s been called a Cap and Trade plan and also invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America. Soon, the Senate will debate it. Support/Oppose for Energy Bill that Contains Cap and Trade’.”

Total % Dem % Rep% Independent %
Support 58 82 37 52
Oppose 37 15 48 41

Benenson found that 56 per cent of voters would be more likely to re-elect their Senators than vote for the bill, with only 35 per cent less likely to vote for re-election. On the other hand, half of voters would be less likely to vote to re-elect their Senator if s/he voted against the bill, while only 39 per cent would be more likely to vote for re-election.  In other words, support for limits on global warming pollution would be a net political plus in these battleground states. Left Foot Forward reported earlier on numerous other polls showing broad bipartisan support for Obama’s climate plan.

(Hat tip: Climate Progress.)

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