According to CNN polls, support for Democratic candidate Jay Inslee has now fallen below one percent. This is especially disappointing, considering what he stands for. You’d think that with Inslee’s track record as Governor and his unique climate platform that voters would latch on.
Fortunately, Inslee’s disappointing poll statistics aren’t necessarily an indicator that Americans don’t care about environmental policy. Quite the contrary, actually. As Inslee was initially unique in pointing out the importance of effective climate policy, Elizabeth Warren, among others, quickly took notice and put out their own proposals. The challenge is that too many politicians are proposing environmental policy for Inslee to stand out in the crowd anymore. And in some ways, that’s a good thing — he’s brought attention to an important talking point.
He struggles to stand out in a crowded field.
Most directly, as candidates quickly rolled out proposals to tackle the climate crisis, Inslee lost his edge. While other candidates could engage their voters with other signature policies while simultaneously proposing environmental policy, Inslee’s platform became too narrow.
When the DNC rejected the idea for an official climate debate this past June, the decision hit Inslee’s campaign hard. Without a climate-dedicated platform to share his views, Inslee simply had no chance to outmaneuver other candidates, who also seemingly care deeply about the environment.
Psychologically, the lack of an officially sanctioned climate debate makes comparing the candidates’ environmental platforms tough. In fact, despite topping Greenpeace’s climate policy rankings, the lack of a climate debate limits public recognition. In short, the general public needs to really dig to figure out what makes Inslee so different.
Not being able to stand out is an unfortunate reality for Inslee. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean it’s the end for Inslee. There’s still a long ways to go, and although unlikely, he does have time to come back. But even if he doesn’t win, he will still have made his mark in this election cycle.
Even still, Inslee has undeniably made his mark.
Inslee’s campaign marks an important first. Up till this election cycle, environmental issues were largely considered to be secondary. But as Inslee continues to bring attention to the climate crisis and the importance of effective environmental policy, a meaningful conversation has been struck.
And with his extensive proposal, The Evergreen Economy, Inslee has shown the importance of practical solutions. Being the first candidate to visibly show extensive plans to realistically deal with the nation’s environmental issues, Inslee has compelled other presidential candidates to follow suit.
Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner Jack Shapiro notes that Inslee “is the only candidate with a comprehensive plan to end drilling, fracking, and mining for fossil fuels in the United States while protecting workers and vulnerable communities.”
While Inslee may not win the election, his campaign has sparked an important conversation around the climate crisis. He might not be the one to implement the policy on a national scale, but someone else most definitely will.