Politics & Global Warming, November 2016

Key Findings

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n=1,226; including 1,061 registered voters) conducted soon after the 2016 election, this report describes how American registered voters view a variety of current and proposed global warming and clean energy policies. Key findings include:

Global Warming Policies

  • Seven in ten registered voters (69%) say the U.S. should participate in the international agreement to limit climate change (the Paris COP21 agreement), compared with only 13% who say the U.S. should not.
  • Two-thirds of registered voters (66%) say the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do.
  • A majority of registered voters want President-elect Trump (62%) and Congress (63%) to do more to address global warming.
  • A majority of registered voters say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming (72% of all registered voters; 87% of Democrats, 66% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans).
  • Nearly eight out of ten registered voters (78%) support taxing global warming pollution, regulating it, or using both approaches, while only one in ten opposes these approaches.
  • If Congress passes a fossil fuel tax, the most popular uses of the revenue are developing clean energy (solar, wind), improving America’s infrastructure, assisting workers in the coal industry who may lose their jobs as a result of the tax, and paying down the national debt.
  • Seven in ten registered voters (70%) support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase – a core component of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Democrats (85%), Independents (62%) and Republicans (52%) all support setting strict limits on these emissions.
  • Two in three registered voters (66%) support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes (such as income tax) by an equal amount – a plan often referred to as a “revenue neutral carbon tax.” 81% of Democrats, 60% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans support this policy.
  • A large majority of registered voters say the Federal government should prepare for the impacts of global warming, prioritizing impacts on public water supplies (76%), agriculture (75%), people’s health (74%), and the electricity system (71%).

Energy Policies

Registered voters support diverse energy policies, including many designed to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, and to promote clean energy. Democrats are the most likely to support such policies, but majorities of Independents and Republicans do as well. Policies include:

  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power (82% of all registered voters, 90% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 74% of Republicans).
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (80% of all registered voters, 89% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans).
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (76% of all registered voters, 90% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans).
  • Generating renewable energy on public land in the U.S. (83% of all registered voters, 87% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 79% of Republicans). Comparatively fewer support drilling or mining fossil fuels on public land (47% of all registered voters, 27% of Democrats, 46% of Independents, and 69% of Republicans).
  • Most registered voters think the U.S. should use more renewable energy (81%) and less fossil fuel (55%). Support for using more renewable energy cuts across party lines (it is supported by 85% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans).
  • Half of registered voters (51%) think government policies intended to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy will improve economic growth and provide new jobs. An additional one in five (21%) think it will have no impact on the economy or jobs. Only about one in four (27%) think it will reduce economic growth and cost jobs.

Infrastructure Policies

  • Across political lines, registered voters support a major investment in the nation’s infrastructure (69%) including majorities of Democrats (75%), Independents (58%), and Republicans (67%).
  • Across political lines, registered voters’ highest priorities for infrastructure improvements are the nation’s roads, bridges, and highways, followed by water supply systems, and the electricity grid.

The report includes these and additional policy questions broken down further, including by liberal Democrats, moderate/conservative Democrats, Independents, liberal/moderate Republicans, and conservative Republicans.