TO:         Interested Parties      
FROM:  John Podesta and Lori Lodes, Climate Power 2020
DATE:   November 3, 2020
RE:         Why 2020 is the First Climate Election

Today, all across the country, voters will turn out to the polls and decide the future of our country. There is no doubt: Climate is on the ballot.

Vice President Joe Biden put forward the “most aggressive” climate plan in history and made bold climate action a key pillar of his stump speech on the campaign trail — even making it a central part of his closing argument to voters. Pro-climate candidates up and down the ballot, in red, purple, and blue states, did the same. In the closing days of the campaign, climate was featured on front pages of newspapers across the country and Trump focused his closing argument on attacking Biden’s climate plan. Even with Trump’s constant lies, a growing majority of voters are demanding the government do more about climate change, with 65 percent agreeing that comprehensive climate legislation should be a priority for the next Congress and the president.

The politics of climate have changed. Pro-climate action candidates ran on — and will win on — their support for bold climate action.

Voters are demanding bold, immediate climate action and there will be a mandate for the Biden administration and Congress to take action on day one. In the final Economist/YouGov poll of the cycle in late-October, climate change was the number three issue among all voters and the number two issue for Democrats and young voters age 18-29. Morning Consult/Politico found in their October poll that 69 percent of registered voters support transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables. And, according to the New York Times/Siena College poll in October, 66 percent of voters support Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan, compared to only 26 percent that oppose it.

Here are five reasons why we know this election is a turning point for the politics of climate and why climate is on the ballot:

1. Biden campaigned on and will win on bold climate action. Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris campaigned aggressively on their plan for bold climate action, arguing that the climate crisis is one of the four historic crises facing our nation, and even making climate and environmental justice a central part of their closing argument in the final days of the election.

2. Climate was a defining issue of the presidential election. There was no issue with a stark of a contrast between the two parties as climate change. 

3. Climate played an outsized role in elections up and down the ballot. Climate change dominated the airwaves and state-wide debates in some of the most competitive elections this year.

4. Voters are demanding bold, immediate climate action. This will be the first presidential election where climate voters play a decisive role in who heads to the White House. Climate was a top priority for key voting blocs sending a strong message that campaigning on bold climate action is good politics.

5. Climate politics played a key role in 2020: This year, climate played a key role in the elections — climate groups raised millions of dollars for Vice President Biden, and the movement united against Donald Trump’s toxic record and in support of Biden’s bold vision for an equitable clean energy future.