My key takeaway from the new ABC-WashPost poll: A lot of people understand energy prices are going up if we do nothing. In fact, 36% of 1001 voters polled believe “the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy” won’t make much of a difference on energy costs and 16% it will decrease them. And this in spite of relentless negative messaging to the contrary from the disinformers.
Many Americans understand the “do nothing” energy tax, since they saw that annual energy costs under President Bush jumped over $1000 (see here). Americans understand that our rising dependence on oil and our inaction on climate change are untenable. And they really, really believe in clean energy and understand that oil companies and Republicans have been blocking action for a long time.
The Post piece on the poll, “On Energy, Obama Finds Broad Support” has a great quote:
“Something definitely has to be done,” said Marian Eldridge, a former legal secretary from East Windsor, N.J., who participated in the survey. “Anything’s worth a try at this point.” She said she tries to “ignore the politics; you get discouraged.” But she said that higher energy costs were “inevitable” and that “we’re too dependent on other countries.”
The fact that American — especially likely voters — support climate and clean energy action should not be a surprise:
- Zogby: 71% of likely voters support House climate bill
- Public opinion snapshot: Public backs key elements of global warming bill
- Mark Mellman must read on climate messaging: “A strong public consensus has emerged on the reality and severity of global warming, as well as on the need for federal action” “” ecoAmerica “could hardly be more wrong”
- Honey, I shrunk the GOP, Part 2: Opposing clean energy hurts GOP “” Mellman
Here’s more on what the new poll finds:
Most Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling energy issues and support efforts by him and Democrats in Congress to overhaul energy policy — including the controversial cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Even as public support has slipped for Obama’s health-care proposals, support for ambitious changes in energy policy has been steady. Although the issue of health care arouses more intense feelings than energy policy does, those who do feel strongly about energy and climate policy tend to tilt toward the administration’s position and a broad majority of people echo Democratic lawmakers’ views on the benefits of proposed changes.
Nearly six in 10 of those polled support the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the administration. Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the issue, compared with 30 percent who do not. A narrower majority, 52 to 43 percent, back a cap-and-trade system; that margin is unchanged since June. A cap-and-trade system would set a ceiling for the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it would allow firms to buy and sell emissions permits.
But what about all that disinformation from fossil fuel companies and conservatives about how the climate bill will ruin the economy?
GOP criticism of the House energy and climate bill appears to have primarily influenced Republicans themselves. Among Republicans, support for cap-and-trade legislation has dipped from 45 percent to 37 percent since a poll taken in June….
Support for the plan among independents has increased slightly, with a narrow majority now in favor. Overall, a slight majority of those polled say changes to energy policy would help address global warming, while a third say they will not. A slim 5 percent volunteered that global warming is not an issue.
And Americans do love policies that promote clean energy:
Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 strikes a chord. More than eight in 10 people say they support the development of electric car technology….
Solar and wind power enjoy near-universal support; nine in 10 people support further development. More than eight in 10 favor requirements for greater fuel efficiency. Broad majorities also favor requiring increased energy conservation from businesses and consumers.
Fifty-two percent favor building more nuclear power plants, but that support drops to 35 percent if the new plants were within 50 miles of the respondent’s home. Support for building nuclear plants is up about six percentage points since 2001.
People love nukes in someone else’s backyard. Here’s an interesting stat:
Some people see the government’s Cash for Clunkers program as a symbol of energy policy, even though it is separate from the comprehensive House legislation. Nearly seven in 10 backed using cash rebates to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient cars .
It may be that the well-advertised success of this program hasincreased confidence in the government’s ability to enact intelligent energy policy. If so, that is an even bigger benefit than its economic and energy impacts (see “Cash for Clunkers is a double economic stimulus that pays for itself in oil savings so CO2 savings are free”).
I’ll discuss the messaging implications of this and other polls in September.