President-Elect Biden Campaigned on Climate, and Won

Washington, D.C. — This election, climate was on the ballot and won. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory clearly shows the politics of climate have changed with voters giving the Biden administration a mandate for climate action.

More than 74.8 million voters turned out to vote for Biden — more people than have ever voted for any other president in history. Biden won the popular vote by more than four million votes with Americans choosing Biden’s bold, climate vision over Donald Trump’s science denial and bailouts for fossil fuel CEOs.

“Climate action was on the ballot, and won,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “This year, the politics of climate changed. President-elect Biden campaigned aggressively on bold climate action and a record number of voters turned out for his vision of a clean energy future that creates millions of good-paying, union jobs. Voters demanded action and rejected Trump’s science denial. While this may have been our nation’s first climate election, there is no doubt that it will not be the last and inaction is no longer an option.”

Exit polls and initial data show that voters turned out for climate action. A Morning Consult exit poll found that 3 in 4 Biden voters said that addressing climate change was very important in deciding their vote for president. Both CNN and NBC News found that two-thirds of voters think climate change is a serious problem, and a FOX News poll found that 72% of voters are concerned about climate change and 70% of voters favor increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.

Suburban voters shifted in large numbers toward Biden in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and other key states where Biden successfully reframed climate change as the real, immediate threat. And Biden focused his closing message on climate to drive youth turnout — and it worked. Young people voted in higher numbers than any other election in history, an increase of at least 5 million over youth participation in 2016. Biden’s victory was driven by a surge in turnout by young voters and voters of color, communities that research shows are motivated by climate, combined with an increase in support from suburban voters who overwhelmingly disapproved of Trump’s record on climate.

Climate action and environmental justice played an outsized role in the political debate throughout 2020. There was no single issue that showed a greater contrast between the two parties than climate change.

Trump lied 978 times in 2020 about climate, but voters rejected Trump’s attacks and turned out in record numbers for Biden’s clean energy vision to create millions of good-paying, union jobs — even in Pennsylvania where Trump made the election a referendum on clean energy.  Biden put forward the ”most aggressive” climate plan in history and promised in his first 100 days to send Congress “a transformational plan for a clean energy revolution.” Since Election Day, Biden has already signaled that climate will be a top priority in the administration, tweeting his plans to rejoin the Paris agreement on Day One and featuring climate on his new transition website.

Biden campaigned on and won on bold climate action. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris campaigned aggressively on their plan for bold climate action, arguing the climate crisis is one of the four historic crises facing our nation and made climate and environmental justice a part of their closing argument.  

  • The Biden campaign ran 9 climate ads; 3 exclusively on climate: The Biden campaign ran 9 ads highlighting climate action with 3 focusing exclusively on climate, including an ad in a deeply red area of Michigan and two ads in the final week. The campaign also launched a series of climate stories by people impacted by climate change.
  • Closing argument centered on climate change: During the final days of the campaign, Biden and Harris made climate and environmental justice central to their closing argument, including on the campaign trail in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
  • The most aggressive climate plan ever: Vice President Biden was widely credited for “pushing by far the most aggressive plan to address climate change in U.S. presidential history.”
  • Strongest climate speech in a presidential election: In one of this year’s most notable moments for climate, Vice President Biden delivered one of the “best climate speeches ever” responding to this year’s record-breaking wildfires.

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

  • Climate starred at the Democratic Convention: The Democratic Convention broke a record with 35 minutes spent on how best to address climate change and the urgent need for action. There was only one mention at the Republican convention.
  • Climate made history at the debates: Climate was a major topic of the two presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate. The debates featured a historic 32 minutes on climate, showcasing Biden’s vision for a clean energy future versus more of Trump’s science denial.
  • COVID-19 exposed Trump’s extreme science denial: The devastation of the global pandemic and the administration’s failed response exposed Trump’s science denial and elevated the similarities with his denial of climate change.
  • 2020’s biggest climate moment elevated Trump’s denial to the front pages: After weeks of staying silent on the wildfires, Trump was forced to travel to California where he doubled down on his science denial, saying “the science doesn’t know.”  The same day Biden delivered his strongest climate speech ever.
  • Dozens of national and state news endorsements on climate: More than 50 national and state endorsements to date from major national and state editorial boards show climate change has emerged this year as an often cited reason media outlets opted to endorse in the 2020 presidential election.