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Poll: 96% of Democratic Voters Want 2020 Nominee to Prioritize Climate Action

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People in New York City participated in a protest with climate activist group Extinction Rebellion on April 17. Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

The global climate crisis and Medicare for All are top issues for a large majority of Democratic voters, according to new polling results published Tuesday by CNN.


The survey, conducted last week, asked Democrats and left-leaning Independents how important they considered certain policy items.

Most people polled said it is somewhat or very important that the Democratic candidate for president in 2020 support party priorities like stricter gun laws, tuition-free public college, impeaching President Donald Trump, paying reparations to slaves' descendants, and restoring voting rights for all convicted felons.

But two issues stood out at the top.

Ninety-six percent of respondents want whichever Democrat runs for the White House to support "taking aggressive action to slow the effects of climate change."

In the second spot, 91 percent want the candidate to back "providing health insurance for all Americans through the government, a plan sometimes called 'Medicare for All.'"

Advocates for bold and urgent climate action celebrated the polling results, which Dan Fagin, who directs the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) at New York University, called "truly astonishing, and very encouraging."

"People are waking up!" tweeted Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.

The CNN survey follows recent polling that showed Americans are increasingly worried about the consequences of the human-caused climate crisis. Some observers Tuesday credited activists and politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for elevating the issue. Congress is considering the Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — and the youth-led Sunrise Movement is in the middle of a nationwide tour to promote the measure.

CNN's poll also comes amid mounting demands for the federal government to scrap the current healthcare system that prioritizes corporate profits over patients, and establish in its place a nationwide single-payer system. As the results were published Tuesday, the Democratically controlled House Rules Committee held an historic hearing about the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which was introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and is now backed by more than 100 other House Democrats.

The survey was not solely focused on policy. It also asked respondents which candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary they want to receive the nomination. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said former Vice President Joe Biden; 15 percent said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); 8 percent said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.); 7 percent said Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana; 6 percent said former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke; and 5 percent said Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.).

Some critics challenged the accuracy of the polling results — particularly regarding which candidates have the greatest support among voters — because of its "undersampling" of people aged 18 to 49.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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