GOP Debate Preview: Pants On Fire

GOP candidates ignore the facts – and increasingly, their base – on climate

GOP Candidates Ignore The Facts – And Increasingly, Their Base – On Climate

Tonight’s third Republican presidential debate on CNBC is billed as “Your Money, Your Vote.” While the expected focus is on economic issues like wages and job creation, any discussion of the economy must also address climate change. Colorado, where the debate is taking place, is a painful example of the impacts of climate change, as wildfires and floods have leveled towns, ripping the economy up by its roots.

Instead of tackling this important issue head on, GOP candidates have ignored it at debates, on the campaign trail, and in policy proposals. One of the fastest growing sectors of the economy is clean energy. One in 78 new jobs in America is in the solar industry. And yet, Republican candidates’ energy plans so far are a blast from the dirty energy past: nobody mentions “clean energy” at all.

Republican candidates and their counterparts in Congress are becoming more and more out of touch on the issue. The graphic below compares a summary of their positions on climate change with the rest of the population – including their own base of Republican voters:


Just four of the 14 candidates, or 29 percent accept the science of human-caused climate change. For example, when Donald Trump was asked about climate change he said bluntly, “I believe there’s weather,” not climate change. While Marco Rubio has made a somewhat similar argument saying, “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing.”

Republicans legislators aren’t much better. More than half of Republicans in the 114th Congress question or deny climate science. While some like Sen. James Inhofe (OK) get much attention for calling global warming a “hoax” and bringing a snowball on the Senate floor as supposed proof climate change isn’t happening, many rank-and-file members also refuse to accept the facts.

Meanwhile, the consensus continues to grow among voters – including Republicans. A recent poll from the University of Texas found that more than three-quarters of voters (76 percent) accept the science of climate change. That includes 59 percent of Republicans – a dramatic shift upward from 47 percent just six months ago.

BOTTOM LINE: Any serious conversation on the economy should include climate change. Republican candidates have not yet been motivated to act by the devastation climate change is already starting to cause to our communities and economy. Perhaps they will be more motivated by the fact that their party’s voters are increasingly forming a consensus on the issue – even if it’s one that the Koch brothers don’t like.

Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.