A bunch of polls have come out that find the public supports strong climate action in spite of aggressive and widespread Republican fear-mongering about energy prices.
For instance, the new Washington Post/ABC poll of 1,072 Americans (here) found:
While majorities across the board support government regulation of greenhouse gases, it peaks among liberals (88%) and under 30s (80%), vs. 61% of conservatives and 64% of seniors. Support also ranges from 85% of Democrats, 65% “strongly,” to 64% of Republicans, 39% strongly. Concern about its cost is broader, and stronger, among those who’d presumably be hit hardest — lower-income adults.
Well, lower-income adults would be hardest hit if we didn’t give them a tax cut equal to their higher energy costs, as Obama plans (see “EPA Analysis: “Returning the revenues in [a lump-sum rebate] could make the median household, and those living at lower ends of the income distribution, better off than they would be without the program.” And indeed consumers can end up further ahead by taking advantage of Federal, state, and utility programs to lower their energy bills with energy-saving strategies that the media hardly ever discusses or polls on.
Our side has been weaker and less consistent on messaging, which makes these poll results even more remarkable. The public seems to have absorbed the Republican arguments and not been persuaded. If you read the details of the poll, you’ll see that immediately after the regulation question, people were asked the cost question — “How concerned are you that federal regulation of greenhouse gases could substantially raise the price of things you have to pay” (with 77% saying they are concerned).
Americans appear to fully understand the worst-case consequences of what they are supporting. Imagine how the polling will ultimately turn out when President Obama and his team actually launches an all out messaging blitz on energy and climate action, with a tax cut for the poor and middle class, with aggressive strategies to lower their energy bills and create green clean energy jobs, and with a clear message of the cost to Americans of inaction.
A new NBC/WSJ poll of 1,005 Americans (here) asked the question more directly, and also found the public supports strong action in spite of the cost: