Who's got the Power? Environmental voters can swing the election. by Paul Rauber
It's been a long four years. Environmentalists who started out skeptical of George W. Bush in 2000 had their worst fears first confirmed, then exceeded. Read more...
Many had worried about another
administration like that of George H. W. Bush--passive and lackluster at a time when urgent and decisive action was needed. What we got instead is the most
aggressively anti-environmental administration in U.S. history. The only serious debate about Bush's environmental record is how far he is trying to drag us back: to
the days before the major environmental legislation of the 1960s and '70s, or all the way back to the robber baron era 100 years ago?
This November we can stop debating and do something about it. Because this year, environment-minded voters have the power to sway the election. Here's how.
Given the country's partisan divide, the outcome of the presidential race in most states is virtually predetermined. (Which isn't to say that voters can't give the new
president an environmental mandate, or elect a Congress that will back him up.) Fifteen states, however, had very close elections in 2000 and remain up for grabs.
These are the "battleground" states, where the number of Sierra Club members is often larger than the margin of victory last time. In addition, polls by the Club as
well as a May 2004 survey by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies show that for one voter in ten, the environment is the most important issue in
the election. (In the Yale poll, 35 percent call it a "major factor," and 84 percent say it will have some influence on their vote.)
The Sierra Club's electoral efforts in the presidential race this year are focused on these 15 states, identifying and repeatedly reaching out to voters--those for whom
the environment is the top priority, but who didn't get around to voting in 2000. (In addition to going to the polls on November 2, people in non-battleground states
can also help in the swing-state battle: see The Sierra Club Bulletin). Club activists are making personal contact with these key voters, staying in touch all
the way through election day, and then making sure they get to the polls to vote their values.