Given a choice of three options, just 24 percent of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues. A slightly higher number (29 percent) believe the proposal has something to do with regulating Wall Street while 17 percent think the term applies to health care reform. A plurality (30 percent) have no idea.
The political press has a very strong structural bias toward overestimating the extent to which the public has real opinions about hot political issues. I wish more pollsters would put these kinds of polls in the field that do something to probe the extent of public ignorance. Polls that attempt to directly probe the public’s views about cap and trade wind up measuring a lot of pseudo-opinion. As you can see right in this result, people are incredibly unwilling to admit that they “don’t know” something or other. Thus 46 percent of the public says they know what cap and trade is about even though they don’t, in fact, know what it’s about.