In Close Midterm Races, Climate Helped Push Democrats To Victory

Democrats Won Partly by Blasting Big Oil and Highlighting Passage of Historic Climate Legislation 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an election determined by tight margins, the contrast between Democrats’ action on climate change and Republican lies about it helped deliver wins for Democrats. Pro-climate Democrats successfully mobilized young, Black, and Latino voters using targeted ad campaigns. Climate Power Action and allied groups lent major muscle to the effort with $135 million in election spending, including ads touting the climate benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act. Bucking conventional wisdom, Democrats also went on offense against Republicans on high gas prices, placing the blame squarely on Big Oil’s profiteering. As a result, Democrats retained control of the Senate, and exit polls showed that voters ranked climate change a top three issue facing the country.

“Candidates that ran on the Inflation Reduction Act and its climate investments won in a highly competitive environment,” said Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes. “That is far cry from 2010, when Republicans ran against cap and trade. The politics of climate have changed, and the unprecedented results of this election show that the American people demand bold action from their elected leaders. Candidates that deliver climate wins will have an edge in future elections that may prove decisive.”

Last week President Biden declared that young voters decided this election, saying “they voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and student debt relief.” Exit poll data support his claims, with voters under 30 making up 1 in 8 voters in 2022, and 63% of them voting for Democrats to represent them in the House. In the most competitive states, youth voter turnout was a historic 27%, and leaned heavily Democratic in key Senate races like Nevada (64%) and Arizona (76%).

Climate and clean energy featured heavily in the ad spends of several tightly contested races, bucking conventional wisdom: 

In the final weeks of the election, Democrats went on offense against Big Oil, calling out their profiteering and how artificially high gas prices hurt working people. This was a winning strategy: