Climate Advocacy Group Plans to Spend $80 Million on Ads to Aid Biden

Climate Power, a liberal advocacy group, plans to spend $80 million on advertising to lift President Biden’s standing on environmental issues and inform voters about the impact of legislation he signed last year.

Polls show few voters are aware of the president’s record on climate issues, and there is a broad dissatisfaction with his stewardship of the issue, a dynamic that mirrors voters’ discontent with his handling of the economy and other concerns.

This new effort also adds to the constellation of outside groups working to solve one of the Democratic Party’s most vexing problems: how to make a president widely seen by his own party as too old to seek re-election just popular enough to win a likely rematch with former President Donald J. Trump.

Climate Power’s solution is to feed voters a steady stream of television and digital advertising highlighting Mr. Biden’s legislative accomplishments to protect the environment and contrasting them Mr. Trump, who mocked climate science, rolled back regulations aimed at cutting emissions and has promised to be a booster for the oil, gas and coal industries.

“There is a huge swath of people who just don’t know anything. There’s also a segment of people that want him to do more. There’s also a swath that thinks he’s gone too far,” Lori Lodes, the executive director of Climate Power, said in an interview last week. “We need to make sure that the Biden coalition, the folks who got him into office in 2020, sees that he’s delivered on his promises. And he has.”

As with so much of Mr. Biden’s agenda, his climate policies tend to poll well on their own but do worse when associated with the president. A Washington Post poll from July found that 70 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of Republicans, would like the next president be someone who favors government action to address climate change. And Climate Power’s own research showed that 67 percent of voters believe climate to be a “kitchen table issue.”

Yet even though Democratic majorities in Congress last year passed, and Mr. Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act — legislation that invests $370 billion in spending and tax credits in zero-emission forms of energy to fight climate change — there is little evidence that he has earned the political benefits from voters who share his climate goals.

Last month, The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago found Mr. Biden’s approval on handling climate change was 42 percent, similar to his overall approval rating of 40 percent, and better than the 33 percent who approved of his handling of the economy.

That poll found Mr. Biden’s climate approval ratings had dropped from 52 percent in September 2021, before he signed his landmark climate legislation, and 49 percent in September of 2022, weeks after her signed it.

The 30-second advertisements Climate Power has run this year, which were paid for with help from Future Forward, the independent expenditure organization blessed by the Biden campaign, have focused on efforts to lower household energy costs and create jobs in factories manufacturing renewable energy products. The ads trumpet gains “thanks to Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.”

The planned $80 million will come from so-called dark money, the donors of which are not required to be disclosed under federal law, Ms. Lodes said. An affiliated Climate Power super PAC, which can also accept unlimited contributions but is required to report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, is expected to advertise on Mr. Biden’s behalf next year.

The Climate Power campaign also has the praise of Mr. Biden’s top aides at the White House.

“President Biden has delivered on the most ambitious agenda to fight climate change, including signing into law the largest climate investment ever,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, the White House deputy chief of staff. “Climate Power is a critical partner to continue demonstrating to the American people that the president is building a clean energy economy that benefits all Americans.”

Part of the challenge in selling Mr. Biden’s strides on climate is that young voters, who polls suggest care the most about the issue, tend to be the most skeptical of his record on it. There has been significant anger over Mr. Biden’s approval of Willow, an $8 billion oil drilling project on pristine federal land in Alaska, and a pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia that has been opposed by environmentalists.

Ms. Lodes dismissed left-wing anger over Mr. Biden’s climate record and said that Climate Power would seek to appeal to a broader group of voters critical to his 2024 coalition.

There are activists and then there are voters,” she said. “Climate activists are going to push and push. And you know what? The Biden campaign, the Biden administration need to be pushed to do more and to go further. But at the end of the day, the reality is that he has done more than any other president in American history on climate.”

Lisa Friedman and Ruth Igielnik contributed reporting.

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