Did cap-and-trade really cost the Democrats votes?

I blogged last week about two high profile Congress races where voters seemed to have been turned off by the fact that the Democratic incumbent had voted for the cap-and-trade bill. Both Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello seemed to have been directly hurt by their vote for Waxman-Markey.

Sure enough, both were voted out on Tuesday night. And here is a full list, courtesy of Politico, of the other defeated Dems who voted for cap-and-trade:

Betsy Markey, Alan Grayson, Suzanne Kosmas, Debbie Halvorson, Frank Kratovil, Mark Schauer, John Boccieri, Steve Driehaus, Mary Jo Kilroy, Tom Perriello, Dina Titus, John Adler, Allen Boyd, Ron Klein, Sanford Bishop Jr, Phil Hare, Baron Hill, Ike Skelton, Bob Ethridge, Carol Shea-Porter, Harry Teague, Michael McMahon, John Hall, Scott Murphy, Zachary Space, Paul Kanjorski, Patrick Murphy, Rick Boucher, Steve Kagen. (A couple of others are still too close to call.)

Of course, climate legislation will not have been top of the agenda for all of these races, but for some of them it definitely was. Politico reports Andy Wright, a former Boucher chief of staff, as saying:

I don’t think there’s any question about it, cap and trade was the issue in the campaign. If Rick had voted no, he wouldn’t have had a serious contest.

But now greens are beginning to fight back, insisting that cap-and-trade had nothing to do with the Democratic defeats.

A new report by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, insists “The energy vote did not contibute to Democratic defeat.”

The report states:

When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked in an open ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited something related to energy or cap and trade. And when offered a list of six arguments Republicans made against Democrats, only 7 percent of voters selected the so-called “cap and trade energy tax.”

So what was the biggest concern stated about the defeated Democrat? It was that the candidate “votes for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda the vast majority of the time”.

One of Pelosi’s greatest triumphs, of course, was steering Waxman-Markey through the House. She became linked to the legislation to such an extent that some Republicans began referring to it as the Pelosi-Waxman-Markey bill.

In an election characterised more by anger and personal hostility than a calm dissection of the issues, it seems likely that opposition to energy legislation became wrapped up with various other issues into general disgust at Nancy Pelosi.

Green campaigners shouldn’t kid themselves: Waxman-Markey did play a role in Tuesday night’s Democratic shellacking.

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