NRDC draws wrong conclusion from meaningless poll

Patrick Gleason Director of State Affairs, Americans for Tax Reform
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Last week, the good folks at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released new polling data intended to show “how a yes vote on Waxman-Markey is affecting the reelection efforts of 23 House lawmakers,” according to Politico.

NRDC’s summary of their survey is full of ambiguous platitudes, vapid buzz words, and boasts that a “majority of voters are on the side of clean energy” and that “clean energy legislation is still polling ahead” in the 23 Democrat-controlled districts that were surveyed.

Never mind the fact that the NRDC’s findings are meaningless because they don’t define what the “clean energy legislation” that they allege has such massive support would look like. Let’s examine what we do know about the 23 members of Congress whose districts the NRDC surveyed and how voters in those districts have responded to the Democratic energy agenda.

When the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill came up for a vote in June of last year, Nancy Pelosi forced members to vote on legislation that, according to the Heritage Foundation, would increase electricity rates by 90 percent, reduce GDP by $7.4 trillion, and increase the average family’s annual energy bill by $1,500. This horrendous legislation was promoted by Democrats as a “clean energy bill” and voted for by all 23 Democratic members whose districts were included in the NRDC survey.

How have voters reacted to these votes? In short, not well. The latest Real Clear Politics numbers show all 23 down compared to their 2008 margins of victory — by an average of more than 14 points. In fact, of the 23 districts surveyed by NRDC, the Democratic incumbents are trailing in all but two.

The NRDC dismisses the unpopularity of the lawmakers who supported their command-and-control energy agenda as the result of anti-incumbency fervor. I would argue that the anti-incumbency fervor that looks to make John Boehner the next speaker of the House is a direct negative reaction to the passage of sweeping, unpopular, and economically-adverse legislation like cap and trade — not just the content and impact of such legislation but the opaque and hasty manner in which it was passed by the House.

A 300-page amendment was added to it just a few hours before the final House vote. In fact, the final version of the legislation wasn’t made publicly available until 96 hours after the final vote was cast. As Nancy Pelosi would say, they had to pass the bill so the public could find out what was in it. Voters have had plenty of time since to learn what was in the Waxman-Markey bill, and the polling data shows that they are not happy with lawmakers who voted for it.

NRDC touts the results of their meaningless survey as “significant.” I would hold up the marked decline in support for, and likely defeat of, Democratic members who have supported Obama, Reid, and Pelosi’s anti-energy agenda as more significant.

Patrick Gleason is Director of State Affairs at Americans for Tax Reform.