Energy Concerns a Major Factor in Voters’ Decision

  • Published on November 7th, 2008

It wasn’t just the economy on voters minds this election, or perhaps people realize that energy and economy go hand in hand.

In a nationwide poll conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Sierra Club on Monday the 3rd and Tuesday the 4th , 50% of voters said that energy issues where “personally important in deciding for whom to vote for President” this year.

62% said they remembered hearing at least something about energy issues and global warming from the rival campaigns. After all, who can forget the GOP mantra Drill, baby, drill? That mantra may have been a big hit in the red-meat-eating frenzy of the Republican convention, but it didn’t carry as well as the McCain campaign might have hoped. Based on what voters heard, 49% felt that Obama has a better plan for investing in clean energy and creating new jobs, with 35% for McCain.

Voters understood that there was a real choice between the two candidates in terms of energy policy, with 82% saying there was at least some difference, with 43% seeing a significant difference.

A good turnout for the environment

This sentiment seems it may have also carried in actual election results according to Carl Pope of the Sierra Club.

Five environmentally-friendly seats were won in the house and 20 in the senate. Of particular note were the high priority races electing Tom and Mark Udall  replacing John Sununu and Jeanne Shaheen. In the house global warming denier Joe Knollenberg was defeated in his election bid. (named by the League of Conservation voters as one of the “Dirty Dozen” for 2008 – James Inhofe of Oklahoma did, unfortunately, retain his seat, and is expected to continue his infamous denial of climate change).

Some examples of environmental, transportation, and energy issues that fared well in the election:

  • In Utah’s Sevier County,  coal proponents pushed through a special bill through the state legislature denying citizens the right to vote on a ballot measure allowing them the right to either approve or reject new coal-fired plants in their community. The bill was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court and the ballot measure was overwhelmingly approved by voters, ensuring that local communities didn’t have to have coal shoved down their throat if they didn’t want it.
  • Missouri passed a renewable-energy porfolio standard, by a margin of 66%.
  • Washington State passed Sound Transit ‘s Proposition 1, a measure that will expand light rail and bus service, while defeating Initiative 985, a measure opponents believed would only encourage solo drivers and more cars. Local press are calling the results of the measures a “double victory” for better transportation.

All this doesn’t mean change can or will happen over night, but at long last it appears as if the nation and its leaders are beginning to take the first steps in the right direction.

Obama said Tuesday night: Change has come to America.

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

About the Author

is an online publisher, editor, and freelance writer. He is the founder of and the History Blog Project, as well as publisher and site director for the Tom also contributes to numerous environmental blogs, including TriplePundit, Ecopolitology, Sustainablog, and Planetsave.   Tom's work has led him to Europe, Africa, Latin America, Canada, the South Pacific, and across the United States. His home base is San Francisco, California.


  • Hi Global Patriot,

    I tend to agree. I think McCain got it about energy and climate, but given the horrific spectacle of "drill baby drill" at the convention, the party was just not going to have any of it.

  • I do believe that John McCain would have implemented a strong program for alternative energy, but after eight years of total neglect by the Bush administration, the public was not buying his campaign rhetoric, and the Republican party did nothing to help convince the electorate.

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