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polar opposites

The Senate lost some more GOP climate moderates.

In a cycle otherwise thoroughly dominated by Republicans, both Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire went down in their respective states.

On one hand, the two races didn’t have a lot in common: Kirk disavowed Trump in his race, while Ayotte waffled between support for and neutrality on the top of her party’s ticket.

But the two incumbents share some other traits: As moderate Republicans in liberal states, they each broke with their party on multiple occasions over climate change. They went so far as to defend President Obama’s signature climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, when the Senate held two votes on the emissions-limiting rules in the fall of 2015. (The Intercept notes that spending from Koch groups dried up in Ayotte’s race shortly after her vote.)

None of this implies Ayotte and Kirk’s lukewarm climate stance led to their demise. But now the Senate has fewer Republicans than ever who admit climate change is human-made. In fact, Ayotte and Kirk were only two of five Republicans in 2015 who voted yes on a resolution that “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”