Environmental Issues and the 2016 Race

You may have thought that we were done with presidential politics for a while.  Not so! The ballots weren’t even completely counted before Marco Rubio set off to Iowa, supposedly for the Governor’s birthday party.  Here’s one list of potential candidates:

GOP.  Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Condoleeza Rice. In case you’re wondering, a recent poll of Republican voters shows Rubio in the lead. He’s got a 9% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

DEMS. Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley, Mark Warner, and Andrew Cuomo.  Clinton, the front-runner, had a 59% rating from the League of Conservation voters before she left the Senate.

That’s 11.  We could make it an even dozen — one for each of the twelve days of Christmas –  by adding Amy Kobuchar or Liz Warren, who have also been mentioned on the Democratic side.  No doubt there are at least a few other people who, right this minute, are thinking over their chances and sounding out a few friends.  Given the Obama example, probably every new freshman Senator has had at least a brief fantasy about the White House. I’d guess that the percentage of politicians who envision themselves as President isn’t much smaller than the percentage of law professors who envision themselves as Supreme Court Justices.  But let’s just stick the 11 listed above.

In the last election cycle, Republican candidates basically competed to see who could be the most anti-regulatory.   It’s hard to see any strong incentive to diverge from that pattern.  The views of the party’s base, its business funders, and the nomination process haven’t really changed. Despite some talk about the need to rethink GOP positions right after the Romney loss, that impulse seems to have passed, and Republican legislators seems as intransigent as ever.  Of course, all of this could change, particularly if the Republicans do really badly in the 2014 off-year elections.

On the Democratic side, there may be a little more variation, since Democratic voters in coal states and in the South have different views from coastal Democrats.  But the leading candidates are likely to be strongly environmental. For instance, Clinton’s LCV score in 2007 was 73% (87% lifetime); Obama’s was 67% (86% lifetime).

In other words, in terms of environmental issues, the odds are that 2016 will look more like 2012 than like 2008. But life is full of surprises, so who knows?

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