Why are national climate politics frozen? The conventional understanding is that Americans are deeply divided on the issue along party lines.

Until recently, Democrats have been scared of talking too often about climate in national campaigns because they think the electorate is split; the Republican Party has been outright hostile to climate policy, believing that’s what the majority of conservative voters think.

And then, in stepped the Green New Deal. It revealed something extraordinary. According to a Yale survey, 81 percent of registered voters say they would support the Green New Deal. And 64 percent of Republicans say they would support it. Other polls have shown similar levels of support.

So what does this reveal about how climate plays among the electorate? And is there a disconnect between what people want and what policymakers think they want? 

This week, we’re joined by Dr. Leah Stokes, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is an expert on political behavior — which includes public opinion, voting behavior and how policy is influenced. 

Leah describes why the Green New Deal plays well with voters. She also talks about how climate is shaping the presidential campaign, why Trump is now talking about the environment, and how fossil fuel incumbents shape public opinion. 

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