- A new poll from a free-market advocacy group found that voters like the Green New Deal until they see how much it will expand the government.
- Poll respondents were also skeptical of the government’s ability to adequately address climate change with coercive policies.
- The results come when other polls have found that Americans’ concerns about climate change are on the rise.
Conservative lawmakers and leaders who have critiqued the Green New Deal (GND) as impractical and overly idealistic now have a poll to point to suggesting that the majority of American voters share their concerns.
Issued last month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the GND has drawn headlines for its sweeping proposals such as reaching net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, retrofitting every U.S. building, and guaranteeing a quality job and healthcare for every American.
The poll, conducted by the free-market advocacy group American Energy Alliance (AEA), found that 57 percent of voters “totally favor” certain portions of the GND like guaranteed jobs and government-sponsored healthcare. However their opinion of the resolution shifted drastically when told about the costs of implementing such proposals.
When told that the GND would double the federal budget and double the size of the federal government over the next decade, for instance, respondents opposed it by margins of 30 percent and 35 percent, respectfully.
Respondents were also skeptical of the government’s ability to adequately address climate change with coercive policies. Only 22 percent said solutions to climate change are likely to come from government action, while 60 percent said solutions will involve technological breakthroughs.
This sentiment makes sense given that respondents expressed little willingness to address the issue with their tax dollars. More than a third answered “zero” when asked how much they would be willing to pay annually to address global warming. The median response was only $50.
AEA President Thomas Pyle told the Washington Examiner the polling suggests that supporters of the GND “win” only when the discussion is general and aspirational.
“When you start getting granular and telling the people the cost, who’s in control, who is making these choices. . . willingness to pay is practically none,” he said.
Mike McKenna of MWR Strategies, whose firm conducted the poll, said that voters’ views on climate change, as well as their level of willingness to pay or make sacrifices to address the issue, have shifted little over the past decade.
“U.S. voters remain defensive against any attempts by government to reach deeper into their pockets. The Green New Deal may have some aspirational elements that poll favorably, but when specifics are brought into the equation, voters express very strong reservations about the potential effect on the size and spending of the federal government,” McKenna said.
The AEA poll’s results come at a time when another recent survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that more Americans are very worried about global warming than ever before. Nearly half of respondents said global warming is harming people in the U.S. “right now.”
Why the apparent reticence on the part of Americans to invest tax dollars and other resources to address climate concerns? A 2017 poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication offers one explanation. It found that while a majority of adults believed that global warming would harm people in the U.S., only a minority believed it would harm them personally.
“No matter how much coastal elites belabor their talking points on climate change, across ideological and demographic groups, typical Americans are rightfully skeptical of government’s ability to find solutions,” said Pyle. “The so-called consensus that progressives reference on the ‘need to act’ is not there. Voters are divided, as they have been for years, on whether additional federal regulations or taxes are needed to address climate change.”
The AEA poll was conducted by phone with 1,005 likely voters; its margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent. Read the full results here.
Image Credit: Photo by JD Rincs on Unsplash
Andrew Collins cut his teeth in politics as a congressional campaign staffer during the 2012 election. Since then he has worked in Washington, D.C. as the digital media manager and as a staff writer at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, and is a recent graduate of the Trinity Fellows Academy (class of ’17). His work has appeared in Politico, US News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Caller, and The Hill. He lives in Seattle, WA.