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Who's Got the Power? | Collateral Damage | Dubya's Dictionary | "Wise Use" in the
White House
| Bush's 7 Deadly Sins | USA Tomorrow | Our Next President | more Sierra

  Sierra Magazine
  September/October 2004
Table of Contents
  ELECTION 2004:
Who's Got the Power?
Collateral Damage
Dubya's Dictionary
"Wise Use" in the White House
Bush's Seven Deadly Sins
USA Tomorrow
Our Next President
Forty Wild Years
Interview: Michael Pollan
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Let's Talk
Hearth & Home
Lay of the Land
Good Going
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Sierra Club Bulletin
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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...

map of battleground states

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.

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