Global Warming: USA Voting Guide

If you think climate change is an important issue (like I do), and you’re wondering who to vote for in the upcoming U.S. election, who should get your vote? Which politicians should you vote against?

The easy answer is: vote for democrats, against republicans. That’s actualy a excellent way to choose, but there’s one even better: look at your individual politicians and see what their record is on the climate change issue.

Fortunately, there are organizations that have done just that. One is the League of Conservation Voters, who record every environmental vote in the U.S. House and Senate and issue a “score” (on a scale of 0 to 100) for each member. They also score each one on separate issues, including climate change. They score both their performance in the most recent full year (2017) and their lifetime record.

Naturally, I retrieved their scorecard on global warming to have a closer look. I’ll focus on the lifetime scores.

First let’s look at the democrat/republican divide. It’s huge. Here are how many from each party fall into each score range in the House (democrats in blue, republicans in red):

Only 2% of republicans have a score of 50 or higher, while 99% of democrats do. The median score for republicans is 2 (on a scale of 0 to 100), median for democrats is 95. Yes, this is one of the most partisan issues in the U.S. today.

But there are exceptions, republicans scoring 50 or higher and democrats scoring below 50. Here are the five republicans with good scores, with their party (all republicans of course), the district they represent, and their lifetime scores:

  • Brian Fitzpatrick, R, PA-08, 100
  • John Faso, R, NY-19, 100
  • Brian Mast, R, FL-18, 83
  • Carlos Curbelo, R, FL-26, 75
  • Elise Stefanik, R, NY-21, 50

    Note that two of them have a lifetime rating of 100! Let’s keep those people in congress. Extra note: Carlos Curbelo has a lifetime score of 75 but only got a 50 for the year 2017, while Elise Stefanik has a lifetime 50 but scored 100 in the year 2017.

    Here are the democrats with bad score:

  • Collin C. Peterson, D, MN-07, 36
  • Henry Cuellar, D, TX-28, 40

    Yes they’re better than most republicans (which is setting the bar way too low), but they’re just not up to par. Let’s get rid of them — unless the opponent (check your local list) is even worse. Extra note: they both have a year-2017 score of a lowly 17.

    As for the Senate,

    Notice that there are two senators shown in brown rather than red or blue — those are the two independents. Both independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) have good scores.

    Democrats have a median score of 90, independents 84.5, republicans only 5.

    Only one republican has a good score: Susan Collins of Maine at 61 (but for year 2017 she barely squeaked by at 50).

    Two democrats have bad scores:

  • Joe Manchin III, D, WV, 29
  • Heide Heitkamp, D, ND, 42

    For democrats, that’s pathetic. Get rid of them unless the opponent is even worse.

    The upcoming mid-term elections in the U.S. are crucial for many reasons. I’m here to tell you that one of those crucial reasons is climate change. You should consider all the issues, but please make climate change your #1 issue.

    As for the good republicans on this issue, yes I think we should keep them. If we don’t reward good behavior, instead just voting on party lines, we can’t expect more good behavior. Let them know that a good record on climate change issues helps them get re-elected, a bad record means we’ll show you the door.

    An important thing to remember is that state legislatures matter. Find out how your state reps stand, and how they voted, and make climate change your #1 issue.

    An extremely important thing to remember is that this is based on their voting record, not on their stump speeches or rhetoric. This is crucial! Any minute now I expect Marco Rubio (R-FL) to declare that he’s serious about climate change (Florida being one of the most hard-hit states), maybe even claim he’s been serious about it all along. His voting record says otherwise, so if he starts making claims like that, call him the liar that he is.

    Most important of all: VOTE.

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  • 9 responses to “Global Warming: USA Voting Guide

    1. Brian Fitzpatrick is my Congressman. I’m appreciative of his environmental voting record. That said, however, I will be voting for his opponent, Scott Wallace, in November.
      Why? Simply because it seems imperative to me that the House in 2019 have a Democratic majority – and Congressman Fitzpatrick is a Republican, who will caucus with the Republicans. If the Republicans retain the majority, the Republicans will control the House Judiciary Committee – and critically necessary investigations of Executive branch abuse of power… will not happen.
      In a vacuum, I might well support Brian Fitzpatrick, based on his own voting record. But he is a Republican, and the Republicans MUST be removed from power in Congress, if our Republic is to survive in a recognizable way. So I cannot support Fitzpatrick.
      Fortunately, Scott Wallace appears to have his head screwed on straight; I don’t expect we’ll lose much, if anything with regard to environmental issues if he’s successful in November.

      • Sceptical Wombat

        Being Australian I have no vote, but if I did I would follow dreater’s advice. Here we had a Prime Minister who took climate change seriously, as Leader of the Opposition he even did a deal with the then Government to introduce a carbon trading scheme – albeit a very modest one. He was rolled by his own party – twice!
        Your system gives individual representatives more freedom, but no matter how environmentally responsible a Republican representative is, he or she still gives her vote to republicans for leadership positions. Similarly environmentally irresponsible Democrats still give their votes to Democrats for for leadership positions. The time to get rid of them is during the primaries.

    2. Heide Heitkamp looks like she’s toast anyway, but I don’t know the potential score of whoever’s replacing her. In Massachusetts the focus race is governor, but it’s not clear to me, from a recent gubernatorial forum on energy and the environment I attended, that either have a sense of real urgency. Jay Gonzalez says he does, but his plan to get money fund the things he wants to do because of the Democratic machine is badly unrealistic. Baker gets it,too, but he’s a gradualist and a consensus builder.

      And, despite his recent pronouncements, judging by his past and the statements in small sessions by his Energy and Environment Secretary, Matt Beaton, he loves natural gas pipelines.

    3. David B. Benson

      Senator Heidi Heitkamp is running against Representative Kevin Cramer whose League of Conservation Voters rating is 1%: except in 2017 it was 0%.

      • rhymeswithgoalie

        Heidi Heitkamp (D) is in frackland, North Dakota.
        Joe Manchin III (D) is in coalworld, West Virginia.
        Susan Collins (R) is from Maine, with no fossil fuel companies.

    4. It is a very sad thing that environment has become a major political issue. To protect the environment, to mitigate climate change impacts(it is all that is left to do i’m afraid) it is needed that all politicians are on the same side. Now we had Obama signing Paris then we had Trump siging against it. This want do much good to the USA either.

    5. Yep. To reiterate:

      Download and share, if you wish. That image is my email signature ’til the election.

    6. rhymeswithgoalie

      It is a very sad thing that environment has become a major political issue.

      Follow the money. Donating a large amounts to politicians who are friendly to your business interests often has a high rate of return, investment-wise.

      Consider Joe Barton apologizing to BP after the oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

      • Yes. It’s no coincidence that the Koch donor network, which has worked so assiduously and strategically for decades to reshape the political landscape here, is well-supplied with Big Fossil proprietors and natural allies (like Koch Corp. itself).