Renewable Energy Swings Votes

A recent poll on renewable energy found that support for renewable energy was strong in two swing states in particular, Colorado, and Iowa.
The poll, conducted by ACORE in the days immediately following the US election, found that energy was an important part of an voter’s decision, on a par with foreign policy, and ahead of abortion. The swing state voters were supportive of candidates whose policies favoured renewable energy. 80% of voters in Iowa, and 75% of voters in Colorado supported renewable energy.

Iowa and Colorado both have significant installed wind capacity, and have thousands of jobs producing wind turbines and components. Iowa gets a larger share of its electricity from wind than any other state, and ranks third in US in installed wind capacity.

I was in Iowa over the labour day weekend, and I was blown away (pun intended) when I heard a radio advertisement for Obama, that talked about how Romney wanted to kill incentives for wind, but Obama supported renewable energy. Obama won both Iowa and Colorado.

It occurs to me that the same thing has happened in Ontario. In the last election, the province’s Green Energy Act was a lightning rod for some. The Conservatives lambasted renewable energy as too expensive, and they pandered to the small but vocal anti wind evangelicals. The governing Liberals lost quite a few seats, but it was a party that had governed for two terms, and that always builds enemies. One of the biggest swings in votes that occurred was the collapse of the Green Party vote, which fell from 8% to 3%. The vast majority of these voters would have gone Liberal, and almost none would have gone Conservative. The Liberals had only 2.2% more votes than the Conservatives. It is not going too far to suggest that the Green Energy Act, which brought renewable energy voters back to the Liberals, may well have been what saved the Liberals from defeat.

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