Dirty politics has a new meaning. In the 2008 elections, clean energy candidates prevailed over those who continue to cling to dirty fossil fuels.

A League of Conservation Voters election poll of battleground states, released today, shows that the policies of investing in wind and solar, requiring energy efficient appliances and raising fuel economy standards are widely supported by all sectors of the public – and clean energy was a major factor in this year’s election outcomes. Obama beat McCain 51 – 45 percent in the 11 battleground states surveyed, and congressional Democrats won by a similar 50 – 46 percent. Across these battleground states, Democrats picked up a net of at least 13 seats in Congress, due in no small part to their support for clean energy proposals and by perceptions of Republicans as “friends of big oil” who have not supported alternative energy.

Four in five surveyed think there are real differences between the parties on energy policy, and voters believe Democrats have better ideas by a 10-point margin (46 – 36 percent).

Voters also support plans to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency, at much higher levels than proposals to increase offshore drilling and expand nuclear power.

  • Seventy-six percent of voters strongly support investing in clean energy, 72 percent strongly support making fuel efficient appliances more affordable, and 70 percent strongly support raising the fuel efficiency standards on cars and making hybrids more affordable.
  • Only 53 percent strongly support increasing domestic oil production and opening offshore areas for drilling.
  • Just 36 percent strongly support investing in new nuclear power plants (Only 28 percent of women).

Voters Want Clean Energy

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Opposition to more oil drilling ranked last of six possible reasons to oppose Democratic candidates, with only 14 percent of voters citing it as a reason to vote against Senator Obama (and only 8 percent of Independent voters) and only 18 percent of voters citing it as a reason to oppose a Democratic House or Senate candidate.

Thirty percent cited support for clean energy as a reason to support Democratic candidate, ranking it the second reason after the economy (For white voters and college graduates, investing in clean energy was the number one reason to support Democrats for Congress).

As LCV’s president Gene Karpinski put it, “This election was in many ways a referendum on America’s clean energy future, and the results have given President Obama and the 111th Congress a clear mandate to take immediate action.”

The survey was conducted by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research and 851 voters were polled in eleven battleground states (including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia), November 3rd to 4th, 2008.