New Survey, Same Results: Voters Prefer Affordable Energy over Climate Agenda

The American Energy Alliance and the Committee to Unleash Prosperity recently completed a nationwide survey of 1000 likely voters (3.1% margin of error) executed in the first two weeks of May.  A full slide deck of the results can be found here.  

As Mike McKenna of MWR Strategies notes, there are a few salient points worth noting.

First, and probably most pointedly, Republicans continue to be on solid ground with respect to who should make decisions about (and who should pay for) car and truck purchases, on carbon dioxide taxes, on willingness to pay to address climate change, on issue prioritization, and even on the fundamentals of the science (by a margin of 19 points respondents identified carbon dioxide as “needed for plant life” rather than a “pollutant”).

Second, voter sentiment and attitudes on energy and climate change seem to be characterized by stasis; despite what you may have read in the media, there has been little change in voter sentiments and attitudes with respect to energy and climate change.  Many of the responses in the survey are either consistent with or more emphatic than what we have found previously.

Where there has been change from past surveys, voter sentiment in favor of government making decisions, in favor of taxation, in favor of banning gasoline-powered products, and in favor of reliance on China, has eroded over time.

For example, when we asked whether a federal EV mandate would cause electricity prices to increase or decrease, 81% of respondents said that it would cause them to increase.  Last year, 74% said it would cause them to increase.  The year before, 69% said it would cause them to increase.

We asked about levels of concern about China’s domination of the EV supply chain.  This year, 64% were very concerned.  Last year, 56% were very concerned.  The year before 43% were very concerned.

We asked about a tax on carbon dioxide.  This year, by a margin of 44 percentage points (65-21).  Last year, it was opposed by a margin of 40 points (63-23).  The year before, it was opposed by 34 points (62-38).

We asked about whether the federal government should raise energy taxes as a potential response to climate change.  This year, respondents opposed by a margin of 63 points (77-14).  Last year, respondents opposed it by a margin of 55 points (70-15).  The year before, respondents opposed it by a margin of 38 points (59-21).

We asked about banning gasoline-powered vehicles.  This year, it was opposed by a margin of 67 points (82-15).  Last year, it was opposed by a margin of 63 points (76-13).  The year before, it was opposed by a margin of 66 points (75-9).

In short, there has been a lot of durability of sentiment on this issue, and where there has been change, it has run counter to the policy preferences of the left.

Third, voters don’t seem to care much about climate change and their willingness to pay anything to address has dissolved in the last year.

As we have seen across a number of years, climate change is not a priority for most.  Just 28 respondents (2.8%) identified it as the most pressing issue facing the United States, and just 29 more (2.9%) identified it as the second most pressing issue facing the United States.  Compare this to the 55% that identified the economy as either the first or second most important issue facing the United States.

Given that, it is not surprising that there continues to be limited appetite to pay to address climate change.   When asked what they would be willing to pay each year to address climate change, the median response was 20 dollars, and 35% (including 15% of self-identified Democrats) said they are unwilling to pay anything.  There has been some rapid erosion in these responses:  last year, the median response was 55 dollars.

Given the concerns about the economy and the general disinterest in climate change as an issue, it is not surprising that voters don’t really want the government to do much.  Voters don’t want a carbon dioxide tax (rejected by 44 points).  They don’t want to ban gasoline-powered engines (rejected by 72 points, compared to being rejected by just 63 points last year).  Voters – including 58% of self-identified Democrats — flat out reject electric vehicle mandates (77-23).

Finally, voters don’t trust government very much.  More than two-thirds (70%) said that they did not trust the federal government to decide what kind of cars should be subsidized or mandated.  An even greater percentage (80% this year, up from 70% last year) said they wanted to make the decision about the cars and fuels they buy, rather than the State government (4%) or federal government (8%).  No one wants California to be in charge of that decision:  82% of respondents (including 72% of self-identified Democrats) disagreed with the statement:  “The State of California should be able to determine what kinds of cars can be sold in other States.”

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