"On global warming legislation, a Gallup poll for USA Today in June found that 56 percent of Americans favored “Regulat[ing] energy output from private companies in an attempt to reduce global warming,” while 40 percent opposed. Democrats did nothing."
This ignores the basic structural feature of the Senate, representation is not proportional. The fundamentals of energy legislation do not align with public opinion, even if the public supports energy legislation that does not guarantee mean that victory of climate legislation was an inevitability. Many of the coal-mining states have democrats representing them, including, but not limited to, West Virginia, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Using a chart from the American Coal Foundation, I calculated how much of the public is represented by an alignment against energy legislation in these states. (It should be noted that I have not checked to make sure all of the democratic senators in these states are opposed, though many of these states have republicans representing them so I may only be off a percentage point or two.) With a coalition of these democrats and republicans from the least-populace republican leaning states, the amount of public represented is only 46%. This is a fundamental point missed by most commentators, even if there exists a plurality of public opinion, that does not mean that there is a plurality in the Senate. Plurality in the Senate meaning above 60 votes.