Hillary Clinton describes the issue as “one of the most urgent threats of our time.” Donald Trump dismisses the problem as “a hoax.” The debate moderators didn’t even mention it.

From the candidates’ first meeting in Hempstead, New York to their last in Las Vegas, Nevada, neither fielded a single question about climate change.

That’s led some like Vox’s Brad Plumer to ponder the issue’s absence from the debate stage. But the answer is simple: It’s not the environment, stupid. And one doesn’t need the political intuition of James Carville to understand why.

Everyday Americans don’t lie awake at night worrying about greenhouse gases gradually increasing average global temperatures, melting polar ice caps, and rising sea levels. They’re concerned about the current state of their government and if they’ll have a job in the future. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact demonstrated by 15 years of Gallup polling.

When asked to name the nation’s top problem, Americans, polled from 2001 to 2015, regularly named political conflict, economic wellbeing, and unemployment.

In 2015, 16 percent of Americans saw the government as the country’s chief problem followed closely by another 13 percent who named the economy. Concern about the environment peaked at a measly 3 percent.

That’s not to say that global warming isn’t a serious issue. It is. Each party’s platform addresses the issue at length, even if they come to opposite conclusions about policy.

For Democrats staking out their party’s official policy positions this year, global warming stands as “a defining challenge of our time,” one that requires immediate government intervention. More skeptical Republicans blame their opponents for whipping up the “sustained illusion of an environmental crisis.” They propose reining in the Environmental Protection Agency and scaling back President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

But the vast majority of Americans simply don’t care about the issue enough that it determines their vote. Aside from those living in coal country, who have turned against local Democrats during the Obama era because of it, the issue doesn’t directly and immediately impact their lives.

Chamber of Commerce launches seven-figure ad buy against Bayh

Also from the Washington Examiner

The ad’s tagline is “it’s time for a change.”

10/21/16 12:45 AM

Caught between the two parties, undecided voters have enough to contend with as new red and blue controversies arise almost daily. Already hard pressed to capture an accurate picture of a candidate’s character in less than 90 minutes, moderators focused their questions where ambiguity and the fiercest controversy exists.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Trump and Clinton launch fiery attacks at uncharacteristically dour Al Smith Dinner

Top Story

Usually the event is an opportunity to playfully jab one another in the campaign’s final days.

10/20/16 10:52 PM



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