Is it possible climate change will impact the 2016 presidential election? To answer that, take a look at the map of the drought in the Western U.S.
|Source: U.S. Drought Monitor|
We can see there are currently roughly nine states experiencing significant drought problems: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah and New Mexico. These nine states possess 109 votes in the electoral college. Of those, Obama took 85 in 2012 and Romney won 24.
Obama won the election with 332 electoral votes to 206 for Romney. If the Republicans are to have any chance to win the election in 2016 they will need to hold the states that went their way in 2012 and take 64 away from the Democrats. That isn’t a huge task, but it is a large one.
But, I think the Republicans are handicapping their own effort with the climate change denialism. The western states in drought are suffering immensely from the drought. Someone on, or worried about, water rationing may not feel very receptive to a politician trying to sell the message that things are business as usual and it’s all just natural variability. If their stand on climate change persuades even a small percentage of the population in those states to vote Democrat, the Republicans will be faced with the prospect of the vote percentages being shifted against them. This would result in the states voting Democrat in 2012 being more firmly in that camp. Meanwhile, states that voted Republican in 2012 might be more difficult to hang on to.
Considering the Republicans will need to find 64 votes to take away from the Democrats, this would not work to their advantage. If the Republicans really want to win the White House (and, I’m assuming they really do), it will be important for them to stop denying climate change and start admitting there is a problem the world needs to deal with.
That, at least, would be a step in the right direction.