Environmental Polling Consortium Quarterly Briefing – Q2 2024

This June 25 briefing features recent research on multiple climate politics topics. Rural voters support clean energy but are skeptical about moving away from fossil fuels. Climate’s effects on weather and on Americans’ wallets outperform other climate messages. All topics covered include renewable energy siting (courtesy of NRDC); rural clean energy attitudes (courtesy of the Rural Climate Partnership); new and different techniques to effectively communicate about climate change (courtesy of the Climate Action Campaign); and Americans' prioritization of different environmental issues and the ways that environmental priorities differ across audiences (courtesy of the Partnership Project Innovation Hub).

Voters In Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan Support the Inflation Reduction Act and Its Clean Energy Investments

The majority of registered voters in three battleground states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan) support the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Majorities across all three states believe the IRA is good for their health, energy bills, and home energy efficiency. Bipartisan majorities support the IRA and Solar for All, but there is a large partisan gap: In each state, Democrats are about 30 percentage points more likely to support the IRA. Political and economic characteristics are important predictors of perceptions of IRA benefits: Democrats, middle/high income voters, and homeowners are more likely to believe the IRA’s appliance rebates benefit individuals “like you.” Voters are most interested in local investments in energy efficiency, public transit, and parks: 2 in 3 voters want to see local projects focused on improving energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.

Empty Nest-ers Beware: Smart Thermostats are Here to Stay

In an era where energy efficiency is paramount, the role of smart thermostats is becoming increasingly significant. Over recent years, these devices have transitioned from niche gadgets to essential household items, driven by their potential to reduce energy consumption and adapt to user preferences. The user base increased from 13% to 17% among internet households from 2022 to 2023, breaking the stagnation that hovered around 11%-13% for many prior years. This increase is primarily attributed to the rising cost of energy, which has spotlighted the economic benefits of these devices. Smart thermostats provide energy savings and feature automated controls and communication tools that aid in efficient energy management. The expansion of the smart thermostat market in 2022-2023 is not just about numbers; it signifies a shift in consumer mentality. This change in adoption pattern reflects a growing public trust in smart thermostats.

Audiences for Electrics

Use media behavior to learn how to reach and move people toward a narrative for all major household appliances and vehicles that is pro-electric. “Lifestyle conservatives” look like a key audience: Better understanding the factors underlying their consideration of and conversion to electrics seems important; this may point to supply-side work that needs doing. Excellent message research on EV’s exists: focus on the policy infrastructure for mainstreaming EVs means it may be of limited utility in understanding consumer choices for lifestyle conservatives, given how lukewarm they can be on government policy for just about anything; also any emphasis on climate is not likely to help here. Most important is to start making content: think about putting content out into the world and testing it with audiences in quick iterative loops that connect back to and constantly update strategic assumptions.

The challenges of building transmission in the US, and how to overcome them, with Liza Reed

The US is nowhere close to being able to build the amount of long-distance power lines it will need for a clean energy transition. In this episode, electricity transmission expert Liza Reed breaks down the many problems with the current dysfunctional system, and what it will take to build up the needed infrastructure.

Climate Change in the American Mind: Politics & Policy, Spring 2024

Steady majorities of voters say that clean energy and global warming should be high priorities for the President and Congress, and voters overwhelmingly prefer pro-climate candidates over candidates who oppose climate action. By a greater than four-to-one margin, voters would prefer to vote for a candidate for public office who supports action on global warming (62%) over a candidate who opposes action on global warming (15%). 74% of voters support the Inflation Reduction Act after reading a brief description of it. 77% of voters support providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels. 74% of voters support tax credits or rebates to encourage people to buy electric appliances, such as heat pumps and induction stoves, that run on electricity instead of oil or gas. 66% of voters support transitioning the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050. 80% of voters support strengthening enforcement of industrial pollution limits in low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by air and water pollution. 65% of voters support building solar farms in their local area. 58% of voters support building wind farms in their local area.