Polls Show Most Americans Want Action on Climate Change; Swing Voters Are Moved by It

Image: LCV/CAP Action Fund

Two new polls show that the President’s poor record addressing climate change is a key issue for a large majority of Americans, particularly “persuadable” voters who ordinarily lean toward Republican candidates.  A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 65% of Americans believe the government is doing too little to address climate change, and overwhelming majorities say they support such policies as large-scale tree planting efforts, tax credits for businesses that capture carbon emissions and tougher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles in order to reduce the impacts of climate change.  Similarly, a recent poll of battleground state voters by the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) found that President Trump’s failed climate record plus a positive vision for addressing the issue are important to key groups of voters.

Why This Matters:  Climate change is undoubtedly a top-tier issue in this election.  Former Vice President Biden raises it often in speeches and events and does not seem to fear that it will cost him votes, unlike his Democratic predecessors.  These polls indicate that a bold climate plan that includes clean energy, clean cars, following the science, and prioritizing future generations will move voters in Democrats’ favor.

The CAP Action/LCV Poll Results

This poll looked at a specific subset of voters to hone in on whether climate change resonates with them.  Specifically, they first surveyed persuadable registered voters and then did additional polling of non-Republican Hispanic voters and non-Republican younger voters.  Here are the key takeaways:

  • There is a huge opportunity to move persuadable voters on the Congressional ballot using climate. While Republicans lead the generic ballot with these GOP-leaning persuadable voters by 9 points, when that is reframed as a choice between a Democrat who “supports taking strong government action to combat climate change” and a Republican who opposes such action, the generic ballot shifts to a 20-point Democratic lead – a net 29-point shift. Among center-right white women, the shift is even more dramatic, as these voters move from -36 to +12, an incredible 48-point shift.
  • Talking about climate is credible to voters in the midst of the public health crisis surrounding the coronavirus – and a majority of persuadable voters agree with Democrats who say clean energy should be part of how our economy recovers from the effects of the virus.
  • Critiquing Trump’s record on climate results in real movement away from Trump among persuadable voters AND increases motivation to vote for Hispanic and younger voters.

The Pew Poll Results

The Pew poll looked at the popularity of certain policy choices and broke down the results based on party affiliation.  They found:

  • A broad majority of Americans (79%) say the more important priority for the country is to develop alternative sources, such as wind and solar; far fewer (20%) say the more important energy priority is to expand the production of oil, coal and natural gas.
  • Large shares say they would favor developing more solar panel farms (90%) and more wind turbine farms (83%).
  • There is far less support for expanding fossil fuel energy sources. Majorities oppose expanding coal mining (65%), hydraulic fracturing (60%) and offshore oil and gas drilling (58%).
  • A narrow majority of the public (55%) opposes more nuclear power plants in the country, while 43% are in favor. Larger shares of women than men oppose expanding nuclear power.

Graphic: LCV/ CAP Action Fund

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