Gallup: 65% of Americans Have More Guts Than Obama, Support ‘Imposing Mandatory Controls On CO2 Emissions’

I know you’ve heard the established wisdom: The climate bill failed in large part because it lacked public support.

That was never true, as over a dozen polls we reported on in the last 3 years make clear (see them here and below). But that myth became popular because it suited the narrative of both the deniers and do-little centrist crowd and their enablers in the media.

What’s amazing is that even though essentially none of the major national “influencers” in the public arena — the President, Congress, media and so on — has been using their bully pulpit to talk about mandatory controls on carbon dioxide pollution for almost two years now, the public still supports it overwhelmingly.  A full 65% of Americans support “imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases.”

Here is the key chart from Gallup:

U.S. Public Support for Specific Energy/Environmental Proposals, March 2012

That’s doubly amazing because the right-wing media has never stopped its assault on climate action, ensuring that at least Tea Party crowd thinks the whole notion is absurd. Again, climate action is a classic wedge issue that separates the extreme conservatives from everyone else in the country, as many polls make clear.

Gallup wins the award for the lamest headline, “Americans Endorse Various Energy, Environment Proposals.” They don’t just bury the lede, they ignore it entirely, offering this frame instead in the sub-hed, “Republicans and Democrats show substantially differing levels of support.”

Note that even 51% of  Republicans and Republican-leaning independents still support a policy that has been vocally opposed by every GOP presidential candidate and every conservative media outlet and was the subject of carpet bombing ads during the 2010 election.

I’d like to get a hold of the poll’s so-called cross-tabs, but it’s typical that independents have a level of support very close to the national average. The GOP/leaners number is likely driven by the conservative Republican males, especially over 50 — the Tea Party crowd — as it is on support for clean energy in general (see yesterday’s post, “Pew Poll: Clean Energy Is A Political Wedge Among Republicans“).

The great tragedy is that Obama chose to let climate action slide when there was that one brief shining moment in 2009 of both public support and progressive majorities in both houses (and, no, that doesn’t mean Obama deserves most of the blame for the failure — that ‘honor’ belongs to the fossil-fuel-funded disinformers and their allies in  politics and the media, see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).

Possibly a major push would not have succeeded, but the one thing we know for certain, is that not seriously trying was the sure road to failure [don’t miss the classic last two lines of that video].

Related Polls:

From what you've read and heard, in general, do you favor or  oppose setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies  pay for their emissions, even if it may mean higher energy prices?

30 Responses to Gallup: 65% of Americans Have More Guts Than Obama, Support ‘Imposing Mandatory Controls On CO2 Emissions’

  1. wvng says:

    And inflammatory headlines making a Romney/republican win more likely will help in the goal of passing substantive energy policy how?

  2. Moomoo says:

    I like this article and think it has a lot of good things to say, but I think it should be written in a way that it can appeal to a wider audience.

  3. Timeslayer says:

    I know. Everyone is such an expert on what President Obama should have done, and should be doing. Clearly they understand the political landscape and advantages/risks involved in trying to govern this dumb-ass country better than the President himself does.


  4. Ah, the excuse that “if you even think of criticizing Obama, then you’re letting the Terrorists^WRepublicans win” excuse. Yet more Obama apologetics.

    Here’s an idea, wvng: If you want Obama to win, then why don’t you persuade him to take up a cause that 65% of Americans already believe in?

    — frank

  5. Timeslayer, which part of

    A full 65% of Americans support “imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases.”

    was unclear to you?

    What’s the difficulty in this “political landscape” that’s preventing Obama from doing something that 65% of Americans want?

    It’s Big Money, isn’t it?

    Please stop giving excuses for Obama’s failures.

    — frank

  6. Now that Mitt Romney is looking to be the Republican candidate, the Obama apologists are now slowly coming out of the woodworks again.

    So we’re going to hear that Obama can do no wrong, that Obama is actually a secret genius even when he does totally wrong things.

    And that, if Obama does something stupid that Congress doesn’t like, it’s because his hands are being tied by the people; and if Obama does something stupid that the people doesn’t like, it’s because his hands are being tied by Congress. In short, Obama was never wrong, is never wrong, and will never be wrong.

    And that, if we even dare to think of criticizing Obama, we’re letting the Terrorists, um I mean Republicans, win.

    And third-party candidates? Let the discussion on third-party candidates be zero, nada, zilch, nil. The only thing that we should say about third-party candidates is that they “take votes away from Obama”.

    Meanwhile, the Earth continues to warm.

    — frank

  7. Bill Walker says:

    I could see there being a wording issue with the two questions that ask about “setting higher emissions standards”. Some answerers could conceivably have interpreted them to mean looser standards that allow higher emissions. But still, this poll is very encouraging.

  8. tamino says:

    So you decide to report on a recent Gallup poll using the headline “have more guts than Obama”? This isn’t just useless, it’s counterproductive.

    On the global warming issue Obama is certainly no saint, but *he* is not “the problem” on the political scene. Headlines like this don’t make it any easier for him — or any other politician — to get policy on the right track. It sounds like you’re doing more to serve your own anger than to bring about action on global warming.

    Your headline is nothing but senseless Obama-bashing. It’s what I expect from the tea-party.

  9. Dan Ives says:

    “…there was that one brief shining moment in 2009 of both public support and progressive majorities in both houses.”

    Joe, I’ve gotten on your case for this in the past and I’ll do so again. PLEASE, stop using the word “progressive” as a synonym for “Democrat/Democratic.” You do a huge disservice to progressives by doing this.

    If I said (hypothetically) that progressives in Congress voted with the GOP to keep oil subsidies and kill the Production Tax Credit, I think you’d have a problem with that phrasing.

  10. M Tucker says:

    We all know that the climate bill failed because it was opposed by the Republican minority in the Senate. We all know that the Republicans in congress will always support the fossil fuel industry no matter what this poll says about Republican voters. As soon as you try to include the new EPA standards for CO2 into the conversation it isn’t just the Republican legislators who suddenly go bat-s#%t; their media supporters lead the conversation. Just look at all the incredible outlandish and completely made-up fears that come from farmers and ranchers. Dust standards? Really? Maybe half of the Republican voters would like to limit GHG but they do not hold their representatives accountable. No, it is much more complicated than: President Obama didn’t try and the public really wants to do something about global climate disruption. How would President Obama have forced the Senate to vote for the House passed climate bill with a simple majority vote? A minority in the Senate can stop anything.

    Looking at the numbers, sure 51% of Republicans want to support wind, solar and alternative fuels BUT 84% want to open MORE public lands for drilling and the conservative media has been banging the ANWR drum for a long time now. Even half of the Democrats want to get at those public lands too. ‘All of the above’ is popular with all Americans.

    I know the media mostly ignores them but Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi and Sheldon Whitehouse have been pretty consistent on messaging and they are not alone even if it seems that way.

  11. Dan Ives says:

    I see. So you prefer climate inaction, corporate welfare to oil companies, and abandoning clean energy incentives under the Democrats rather than the GOP.
    “OMFG if the GOP wins then they’ll expand offshore drilling and oil exploration and kill environmental regulations!!!” Oh wait…

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    Koch and Tillerman have figured out that they don’t need to persuade a majority of Americans that we need to stay on the fossil fuel course. All they have to do is count on obstruction in Congress and indifference from those in the middle on this issue, and they’re home free.

    The other problem, as posters here point out, is that the Democrats are muted on this issue, and don’t call out McConnell and company for being the obvious sluts that they are. Maybe it’s because they’ve got a few ho’s in the house themselves.

  13. Mark Shapiro says:

    Dear Joe,

    I read Climate Progress daily and thank you for your efforts, I support clean energy fully, I yearn for progress and I mourn every defeat.

    But you err when your claim that I “have more guts than Obama” based on my support for controls on CO2. My “support” for clean energy, and many other issues, is pretty easy. Running for President, and serving, is tough.

    You know what clean energy is up against: Kochs, Murdoch, ExxonMobil, ALEC, and the entire plutocratic structure of thinktanks, lobbyists, politicians, media, and money that you and others expose repeatedly. And energy is just one of many tough issues.

    Bill McKibben has guts. So do Jim Hansen, Michael Mann, the Keystone XL protesters, and so do you. But I don’t, whether I’m part of some 65% or not.

    You have the right to demand progress and to criticize the President on any issue you please.

    But gutless? No. On this point, you err.

  14. Mark Shapiro says:

    Shorter tamino:

    article good, headline bad.

  15. Tim says:

    What the headline (and the content of the post) is saying is that if Obama started talking about the climate and the environment in general, he’d be more likely to win. As for the headline, can you think of anyone who would vote for Romney instead of Obama on the basis of Romney’s having more guts?! The SOB has reversed himself on his own health care plan, his environmental stance, and …well, just about everything. Mr. Etch-a-Sketch will forever bear his new name because he’s an even greater coward than Obama – and everyone, including Republicans, knows it. Obama’s strategy is as it has been since the day he took office: to position himself only halfway to crazytown, while depicting the GOP (with their enthusiastic help) as occupying downtown crazytown.

  16. Joe Romm says:

    I hear you. I guess I wouldn’t say that Obama has no guts — only that seen that on the issue of standing up to the status quo on climate, he isn’t ahead of the curve.

  17. Timeslayer says:

    I wish that public support for a policy meant that it could pass our Congress. Our country would be in a lot better shape right now if it did. But we don’t live in that sort of country – not by a light year. The country we DO live in features one party that is 100% beholden to Big Money from the oil industry, whose profits WOULD be significantly diminished by a cap and trade bill. And some Democrats are similarly corrupted.

    Since it takes 60 Senate votes to pass a bill, there’s no reason to think cap and trade was an attainable goal for President Obama at any point so far. And of course, we do need cap and trade. This all just underscores how severely dysfunctional our democracy is. People who see President Obama so negatively, as you do, fail to appreciate the extent of this dysfunction.


  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Romney may surprise on the up side, by doing an ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ transformation. Obama, I’d bet my life on it, will not.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I think that you understand Obama, and the cynical manipulation that he represents, very well. Obama will not change his spots. He’ll pretend to, to get elected, then four more years of sell-outs, followed by a lucrative retirement.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s not a question of ‘guts’ It’s a problem of indifference. Obama is a creation of the 0.01%, and they have 25 trillion tied up in fossil fuel assets. It is the very bedrock of the global elite’s money power and influence. Obama is not, as a loyal servant, going to annoy his Masters by destroying that much wealth, and returning it to the status of black rocks and sticky, combustible, fluids. Not ever.

  21. prokaryotes says:

    “Obama is a creation of the 0.01%..”

    Elaborate more? Evidence? To counter this, one has just look at the record of his work to get us off of fossil fuels, including to acknowledge a new geo-politcal reality.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The ‘Chicago Jewish News’, October 24, 2008, the article ‘Obama and the Jews’ by Yearwood, outlines how Obama was talent scouted at college, employed and financed in his political career by prominent Chicago Jewish identities, including billionaires, ie the 0.0001%. Moreover the vast bulk of Obama’s political contributions came from business, and still do, especially the financial grifters. And then you have his record. I could be jumping to conclusions, but this pile of circumstantial evidence convinces me.

  23. wvng says:

    Any climate bill also has to appease Petro state Dems. Which means more drilling, which means “clean coal” and all the other things that shouldn’t have to be done for good policy, but must be done for political purposes.

    It would be nice if public opinion mattered in this, but what really matters are the votes of 100 Senators (many of whom come from conservative rural states) and the House.

  24. with the doves says:

    That’s just it – polls such as this show that Obama and company are either NOT attuned to the political landscape or are not up to speed on the threat of climate change. I think it’s the former. There is plenty of evidence of centrist, inside-DC groupthink in the administration. They don’t appear to grasp where the populace is around climate.

    And in a situation like this they should be more pro-active about driving the narrative anyway.

    I’m glad Mr. Romm calls them out on their silence.

  25. Timeslayer,

    Please spare me all that apologetics. There’s zero indication that Obama is even trying to fight moneyed interests.

    — frank

  26. To counter this, one has just look at the record of his work to get us off of fossil fuels, including to acknowledge a new geo-politcal reality.

    You mean the record of his talk?

    Obama talks the talk, but when will he walk the walk? When will the Obama administration finally bring BP to account for the 11 deaths caused by the oil spill? When will the Obama administration do the right thing and release Tim DeChristopher?

    Instead, we just get a lot of apologetics.

    — frank

  27. tamino,

    I don’t believe that we must treat Obama as infallible and above criticism, just because it’s election season.

    — frank