Rabe: Green Super PACs can have real influence in 2020 elections

July 30, 2020

In an article in E&E News, Ford School professor Barry Rabe is quoted as saying that the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), among other environmental organizations, can have a real impact on the elections in 2020.

The article states, “The LCV scorecard, which rates lawmakers based on how their votes align with environmental priorities, only becomes more influential as the group's super PAC spends more money on elections, said Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan who tracks environmental politics.”

For a group that's raising and spending in eight figures, "to have a litmus test on different votes becomes really significant," Rabe said.

The rhetoric from Democrats on the campaign trail in recent months, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has generally mirrored their environmental backers.

In that sense, Rabe said, greens are setting themselves up well to be part of the conversation if Democrats sweep in November and look to pass some kind of major stimulus and infrastructure bill to respond to the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Even if this year's green surge is being driven by a reaction to Trump, the numbers alone suggest "that there really is an underpinning for these kinds of groups and advocacy," Rabe said.

The full article can be seen here.

Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School. He is also the Arthur Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy, with courtesy appointments in the Program in the Environment, the Department of Political Science, and the School for Environment and Sustainability. A non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Barry directed the Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) from 2012-2019 and was a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2015. His research examines climate and energy politics, and his most recent book, Can We Price Carbon? (MIT Press) was released in 2018. He has received four awards for his research from the American Political Science Association, including the 2017 Martha Derthick Award for long-standing impact in the fields of federalism and intergovernmental relations. In recent years, Barry has chaired the Assumable Waters Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has served on recent National Academy of Public Administration panels examining the Departments of Commerce and Interior as well as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. He is currently a member of the U-M Carbon Neutrality Commission.