This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new national polling on climate change, the Inflation Reduction Act, and public transportation + new state-level polling on climate and environmental policies in New Mexico.
- NBC News - Voters lean toward believing that the Inflation Reduction Act is a good idea, even though only about one-quarter believe they’ll personally benefit; partisans are becoming more polarized around federal climate action (Article, Topline)
- The Economist + YouGov - The majority of Americans continue to attribute climate change to human activity; two in five say they’re worried about water shortages in their local area (Topline, Crosstabs)
- Yahoo + YouGov - Americans support the Inflation Reduction Act and its cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by wide margins (Crosstabs)
- Data for Progress - Voters support proposals to invest in public transportation and make it more equitable (Memo, Topline)
- FiveThirtyEight - Americans are widely concerned about climate change and link it to extreme weather; most say they’ve changed their personal behaviors due to environmental concerns (Article)
- EDF Action (NM) - New Mexico voters widely support proposals to shift the state toward clean energy, reduce methane pollution, and protect safe drinking water (Release, Memo)
The public still needs to be educated on what’s in the Inflation Reduction Act and how they personally stand to benefit. Polls have consistently shown that the more Americans learn about the specific provisions included in the IRA, the more they support it. However, polling this week from NBC News and Yahoo/YouGov shows that much of the public can’t say whether they support or oppose the bill, and the NBC News poll also finds that only about one-quarter of voters believe that the bill will have a positive impact on them personally.
Partisan divides around climate as a general issue are continuing to grow, but there’s still cross-partisan support for specific policies to reduce pollution and combat climate change. NBC News polling finds that Democrats and Republicans are moving further apart in their attitudes about the government’s role in addressing climate change. However, polls continue to show bipartisan support for clean energy incentives, and polling by EDF Action in New Mexico finds a significant amount of bipartisan approval for the state’s new methane rules.
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
[Public Transportation] 75% of voters support the U.S. government making investments in the expansion and maintenance of public transportation [Data for Progress]
[Public Transportation + Justice] 67% of voters support the U.S. directing a certain percentage of public transportation funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to communities “that live further away from transit systems and are most significantly impacted by pollution” [Data for Progress]
[Climate Change] The majority of Americans (53%) recognize that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity [The Economist + YouGov]
[IRA] Americans support the Inflation Reduction Act by a 19-point margin (48%-29%) after learning basic information about its climate, prescription drug, tax, and deficit-reduction provisions [Yahoo + YouGov]
[IRA] By a 19-point margin (49%-30%), Americans support the Inflation Reduction Act’s provision to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 [Yahoo + YouGov]
[Issue Priority] More Americans say that climate change and the environment is the single “most important issue” to them than any other issue besides inflation / prices and health care [The Economist + YouGov]
[New Mexico] 89% of New Mexico voters support a proposal to provide funding to help rural and tribal communities repair systems that ensure safe drinking water [EDF Action]
[New Mexico] 70% of New Mexico voters support the state’s new requirements for the oil and gas industry to use technologies that limit methane emissions and other pollution [EDF Action]
[New Mexico] 58% of New Mexico voters support proposed state legislation that would make New Mexico a national leader in clean energy production and require that the state cut climate pollution by half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 [EDF Action]
Voters lean toward believing that the Inflation Reduction Act is a good idea, even though only about one-quarter believe they’ll personally benefit; partisans are becoming more polarized around federal climate action (Article, Topline)
NBC News finds that, while voters are supportive of the Inflation Reduction Act when they hear about it, many haven’t made up their minds about the bill and most people don’t see how it will personally benefit them.
After hearing a brief description of the bill (“Democrats in Congress recently passed legislation supported by President Biden that addresses health care and prescription drug prices, climate change, taxes for corporations, and the federal budget deficit”), voters are 11 points more likely to believe that it is a “good idea” (42%) than a “bad idea” (31%). Even after this description, however, roughly one-quarter of voters (26%) say they can’t give an opinion on it.
It’s also worth noting that, while the total level of support here is lower than we’ve seen in other polls, the fact that voters view the bill more positively than negatively by a double-digit margin even when it’s directly attributed to one party (Democrats in Congress and President Biden) is an encouraging sign about the bill’s popularity.
Voters’ support for Biden’s actions tend to hew fairly closely to his overall approval rating, but in this case, voters have a positive impression of the Inflation Reduction Act even as Biden’s approval rating in the poll is 13 points underwater (42% approve / 55% disapprove).
One clear way to bolster the bill’s popularity is to communicate to the public how they personally stand to benefit from it. As things stand, voters are more likely to believe that the Inflation Reduction Act will make things worse for them (35%) than make things better (26%), and over one-third (36%) don’t believe that it will make a difference for them either way.
The poll also troublingly finds that, in large part due to increasing partisan polarization, the minority of voters who believe that the federal government “does not need to be involved” in addressing climate change is growing.
Those who believe the country isn’t doing enough to address climate change (45%) now outnumber those who believe that the government shouldn’t be involved (36%) by nine points. By comparison, in August 2021, voters were 21 points more likely to say that the government wasn’t doing enough to address climate (52%) than to say that the government shouldn’t be involved (31%). And in December 2019, they were 38 points more likely to say that the government wasn’t doing enough to address climate change (59%) than to say that the government shouldn’t be involved (21%).
Over the same time period, the share of Americans who believe that the government is “doing enough to address climate change” has stayed steady (15% now, 14% in August 2021, and 15% in December 2019).
The NBC News article linked above identifies the primary reason that rejection of the government’s role in addressing climate change is growing: two-thirds of Republicans now say that the federal government does not need to be involved in addressing climate change, up from 40% in 2019.
The Economist + YouGov
The Economist and YouGov continue to find that a stable majority of Americans recognize human-caused climate change. Their latest poll finds that 53% of the country believes that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, and this figure has hovered between 52% and 56% across several Economist/YouGov polls this summer.
The new poll also finds that droughts are a common concern in much of the country, and the public leans toward believing that climate change is causing them. Just over two in five Americans nationwide (42%) say that they are at least “somewhat” concerned about water shortages in their local area, though this percentage varies considerably by region: the majority of Americans in Western states (61%) say they’re concerned about water shortages, compared to 45% in the Northeast, 38% in the South, and 24% in the Midwest.
The poll also finds that Americans are ten points more likely to believe that recent droughts are primarily the result of climate change (44%) than to believe that they are the “kinds of events that just happen from time to time” (34%). The link between droughts and climate change is clearest to residents of the West, who feel the most impacted by water shortages: over half of Americans in the West (53%) attribute droughts to climate change, compared to 44% in the Midwest, 40% in the South, and 39% in the Northeast.
Yahoo + YouGov
Americans support the Inflation Reduction Act and its cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by wide margins (Crosstabs)
Like the NBC News poll above, Yahoo and YouGov find that Americans continue to lean toward supporting the Inflation Reduction Act when they are provided with basic information about it.
The poll finds that Americans support the legislation by a 19-point margin (48% favor / 29% oppose) after learning about some of its major provisions, with about one-quarter (24%) unsure of where they stand on it.
The poll also finds a 19-point margin of support for the bill’s climate-related components (49% favor / 30% oppose), which it described as follows: “President Biden just signed a $369 billion climate and energy law that promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.”
This provides further evidence that advocates should feel comfortable leaning into the bill’s climate focus with general audiences. The climate action piece of the legislation continues to be popular on its own, though not as widely supported as the components of the bill that address prescription drug prices and deficit reduction.
This Yahoo/YouGov poll, for example, finds that Americans overwhelmingly support the component of the bill that would “lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time while capping out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 a year” (64% favor / 14% oppose).
By a wide margin (54% favor / 22% oppose), Americans also support the part of the bill that would “raise an estimated $451 billion in new revenue over the next decade primarily by requiring large corporations to pay the taxes they owe, while setting aside $300 billion for deficit reduction.”
Data for Progress
Polling regularly shows that infrastructure investment is one of the few issue priorities that can still consistently draw high levels of bipartisan support in today’s highly polarized political environment.
In line with that trend, Data for Progress finds that there is large, cross-partisan support for proposals to improve the United States’ public transportation infrastructure and to make it more equitable:
75% of voters support the the U.S. government making investments in the expansion and maintenance of public transportation (including 87% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 65% of Republicans)
67% of voters support directing a certain percentage of public transportation funds to projects in communities that live further away from transit systems and are most significantly impacted by pollution (including 87% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and 47% of Republicans)
One of the reasons that these ideas are so popular is that voters see tangible benefits to public transportation investments, both for the country and for their own community. Data for Progress finds that 81% of voters believe that the United States would benefit “some” or “a great deal” from expanded and improved public transportation systems, such as trains and buses - including 89% of Democrats, 84% of independent voters, and 70% of Republicans.
Additionally, nearly seven in ten (69%) believe that their community would benefit from expanded and improved transportation systems like trains and buses - again including majorities of Democrats (83%), independent voters (69%), and Republicans (57%).
Americans are widely concerned about climate change and link it to extreme weather; most say they’ve changed their personal behaviors due to environmental concerns (Article)
There’s no brand-new polling here, but FiveThirtyEight’s polling roundup last week included a heavy focus on public opinion about climate change and is well worth reading for climate advocates who want a quick synopsis on current polling trends on the issue.
Excerpting from the article here, with emphasis added in bold:
“A majority of Americans — 71 percent — said their local community has endured at least one of five forms of extreme weather over the last year: heat, flooding, drought, wildfires or rising sea levels, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center conducted in May. And regardless of the type experienced, a majority of those who had faced such weather said climate change played a role. This is true even among Republicans, who are generally less likely to believe climate change is happening. For Republicans who said their local community had experienced extreme heat, for example, 79 percent said climate change contributed a lot or a little, while 21 percent said climate change did not contribute at all.
Whether or not they’ve experienced it firsthand, most Americans are worried about climate change. In a Morning Consult poll from July, 73 percent of Americans said they were at least somewhat concerned about climate change, including 39 percent who said they were very concerned. However, in this case, public opinion is split along partisan lines. While 91 percent of Democrats said they were very or somewhat concerned about climate change, fewer than half — 47 percent — of Republicans said the same.
Clearly, many Americans are feeling the heat and understand its causes. But what are they willing to do about it? Well, many are taking matters into their own hands and trying to make more climate-friendly choices in their personal lives. In that Morning Consult poll, 61 percent of Americans said they had changed their behavior “some” or “a lot” because of concerns about the environment….
Fewer than half of all respondents said that they stay away from single-use packaging or that they buy items with limited to no packaging. But most Americans said they recycle, use refillable water bottles, restrict their use of plastics and buy items made of recyclable materials because of concerns over the environment…
And there’s substantial agreement among Americans over what the federal government can and should do to address climate change, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from earlier this month. A majority of Americans supported measures such as incentives to lower the cost of renewable energy and using government funds to promote oil and gas companies to reduce emissions. These policies are popular even among Republicans: 53 percent of Republicans supported the cost-lowering incentives and 50 percent supported funding to lower emissions from oil and gas companies.”
EDF Action (NM)
This newly released EDF Action poll in New Mexico finds that, amid a hotly contested gubernatorial race, there is broad and cross-partisan support in New Mexico for climate-friendly policies at the state level.
Ensuring safe drinking water regularly polls as the single top environmental priority among the American public. Consistent with that, EDF Action finds overwhelming support in New Mexico (89%) for a proposal to provide funding to help rural and tribal communities repair systems that ensure safe drinking water.
The poll also finds that a commanding majority (70% support / 20% oppose) approve of New Mexico’s recently adopted methane rules, described in the poll as “new requirements that the oil and gas industry use technologies to limit the amount of methane gas and other pollution released from oil and gas facilities.” These methane rules draw support from 91% of Democrats and two-thirds of independents (67%), while Republican voters are split evenly (45% support / 45% oppose).
EDF Action also finds that, by a 20-point margin (58% support / 38% oppose), New Mexicans want to see the state pass a comprehensive new climate law that “would make New Mexico a national leader in the production of clean, renewable energy and require the pollution that causes climate change be reduced by half by 2030 and be net-zero by 2050.”
While it’s able to draw majority support, this climate package is more polarizing than the other proposals included in the poll memo. Democratic voters overwhelmingly support the comprehensive climate proposal (90% support, including 81% who support it “strongly”), and the majority of independent voters are also in favor (56% support / 36% oppose). However, just 18% of Republican voters say they support it, with 78% opposed.
The Environmental Polling Consortium (EPC) is a collaborative hub for the environmental community to share and discover public opinion research.
If you’d like to learn more about the EPC or are interested in becoming a member with access to non-public polling, contact EPC Partnerships Manager Leah Zamesnik at email@example.com