Public Resource

Environmental Polling Roundup - December 3rd, 2021

David Gold, Environmental Polling Consortium
12-03-2021

This post includes a roundup of climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from this week’s public polls - including new polling on the Build Back Better plan, climate agreements made at COP26, and young Americans’ climate attitudes.

 

HEADLINES

  • Navigator - Support for the Build Back Better package remains high, and messages about corporate greed and the bill’s economic benefits help neutralize attacks over spending and inflation; replacing lead pipes is the most popular policy to tout in the bipartisan infrastructure bill (Build Back Better DeckInfrastructure Deck)
  • POLITICO + Morning Consult - Roughly half of voters support the Build Back Better package when it’s described as Democrats’ “$2 trillion Build Back Better climate and social spending package,” but a plurality believe it will worsen inflation (ArticleCrosstabs)
  • Morning Consult - Few Americans followed coverage about COP26, but most support the major international agreements made at the conference (ArticleCrosstabs)
  • Harvard Institute of Politics - Most young Americans expect climate change to impact their major life decisions (ReleaseToplineCrosstabs)

 

GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT

  • Voters support the Build Back Better plan by a two-to-one margin (60%-30%) after a one-sentence description that includes its major provisions and expected price tag [Navigator]
  • 86% of voters support the bipartisan infrastructure plan’s policy to replace and upgrade water pipes that are contaminated with lead [Navigator]
  • 67% of Americans approve of the commitment made by countries at COP26 to stop deforestation by 2030 [Morning Consult]
  • 63% of Americans approve of the pledge made by countries at COP26 to reduce global methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels by 2030 [Morning Consult
  • 62% of Americans approve of the joint announcement made by the United States and China at COP26 that the two countries would work together to slow global warming during this decade [Morning Consult
  • 62% of Americans approve of President Biden’s commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 [Morning Consult
  • 60% of Americans approve of President Biden’s commitment to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 [Morning Consult
  • 57% of Americans approve of the pledge made by countries at COP26 to stop using coal power domestically [Morning Consult
  • 56% of Americans approve of the commitment made by countries at COP26 to stop the public financing of fossil fuel projects abroad [Morning Consult
  • 54% of Americans approve of President Biden’s commitment to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 [Morning Consult
  • More Americans say that climate change and the environment is the single most important issue area to them than any other issue besides health care [Economist/YouGov]

 

FULL ROUNDUP

 

Navigator

Support for the Build Back Better package remains high, and messages about corporate greed and the bill’s economic benefits help neutralize attacks over spending and inflation; replacing lead pipes is the most popular policy to tout in the bipartisan infrastructure bill (Build Back Better Deck, Infrastructure Deck)

 

Navigator’s latest national tracking poll finds that voters support the Build Back Better plan by a two-to-one margin (60% support / 30% oppose) when it’s described as “Biden and Democrats’ new economic plan” that “is expected to cost $1.75 trillion and will establish a universal pre-K program, expand Medicare for seniors to include hearing coverage, and lower health care costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.” 

 

This represents a slight uptick in support from Navigator’s previous survey in early November, which found that voters supported the proposal by a 57%-30% margin.

 

Navigator also simulated several head-to-head arguments against the following claim that the bill will worsen inflation: “Republicans say Biden and Democrats’ government spending is out of control, driving up the prices of everyday goods and making it so that American families and small businesses struggle to pay for the things they need.

 

When asked whether they agree more with this statement from Republicans or with different potential rebuttals from supporters of the legislation, voters end up split roughly 50/50 whether the rebuttal pivots to an argument about corporate greed, attacks Republicans over their obstruction, touts the economic benefits of the legislation, or cites economic experts who say the legislation won’t cause inflation.

 

Compared to the GOP attack about spending and inflation,

  • 53% agree more with “Democrats who say Republicans are standing in the way of lowering costs, like allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, lowering health insurance premiums, and bringing down utility bills.”
  • 52% agree more with “Democrats who say big corporations are taking advantage of people as the economy reopens by raising prices and squeezing consumers for profit, driving prices up with their corporate greed.”
  • 52% agree more with “Democrats who say they are trying to pass laws that ease the rising costs by investing in new jobs and making it easier for people to get back to work, while Republicans are standing in the way to score political points.”
  • 49% agree more with “Democrats who say that credit rating agencies have said that the Democratic plans won’t lead to inflation and 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists back the plans, saying they will actually reduce inflation.”

 

A recent poll by Yahoo and YouGov found that Americans are more likely to say that disruptions caused by COVID-19 are to blame for inflation (80%) than President Biden (57%) or COVID-19 stimulus spending (52%). Still, it’s good to know that there are several viable messages to combat inevitable attacks against the Build Back Better Act over spending and inflation.

 

Navigator also asked several questions about the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has been signed into law, which their poll finds voters support by a 54%-29% margin initially and by a wider 65%-25% margin when provided with a brief explanation of what’s in the bill. 

 

The poll also found that the provision to replace and upgrade water pipes that are contaminated with lead is the single most popular element of the infrastructure bill among the nine provisions that Navigator tested in the poll, with 86% support - including 59% who support the provision “strongly.” This data is consistent with a lot of public polling that shows lead pipe replacement to be an overwhelmingly popular policy, and underlines that lead pipe replacement is a highly salient policy win that environmental advocates can tout to the public even as the wait for Build Back Better’s passage continues.

 

POLITICO + Morning Consult

Roughly half of voters support the Build Back Better package when it’s described as Democrats’ “$2 trillion Build Back Better climate and social spending package,” but a plurality believe it will worsen inflation (Article, Crosstabs)

 

This national tracking poll from POLITICO and Morning Consult finds that voters support the Build Back Better package by a net margin of 11 points (49% support / 38% oppose) when it’s described as “Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better climate and social spending package.” 

 

Support here is a bit lower than in the Navigator poll above, likely because POLITICO and Morning Consult didn’t really specify what’s in the bill; polls show that the public tends to respond more favorably to the legislation the more they learn about the specific policies it includes.

 

POLITICO and Morning Consult also asked what impact voters believe the legislation will have on inflation, and found that a plurality (43%) expect it will make inflation worse. About one-quarter (26%) expect it to make inflation better, 15% expect no impact on inflation, and 15% don’t know enough to give an opinion.

 

Attitudes about the legislation’s potential inflationary effect are clearly driven by Republican partisans: 74% of Republicans say the bill will make inflation worse, compared to 48% of independents and just 14% of Democrats. Still, the fact that nearly half of independent voters believe that the Build Back Better package will make inflation worse is clearly a cause for some concern

 

Independent voters tend to pay the least attention to politics and policy (just 23% of independent voters in the poll said they heard “a lot” about the U.S. House passing the Build Back Better package, compared to 31% of voters overall) so are naturally more impressionable when messaging is able to break through to them. And the poll indicates that there’s plenty of room to persuade independent voters about the benefits of the Build Back Better package, as independent voters here support the plan by a narrow 41%-38% margin and 21% are undecided. 

 

The more that advocates can educate the public (particularly those in the middle of the political spectrum) about the substance and benefits of the Build Back Better legislation in order to generate good will behind it, the less effective opponents’ fear mongering over inflation is likely to be.

 

Morning Consult

Few Americans followed coverage about COP26, but most support the major international agreements made at the conference (Article, Crosstabs)

 

This other recent poll from Morning Consult focused on COP26 and found that, while Americans didn’t hear much about the conference (just 9% said they heard “a lot” about it), the public generally supports the agreements that were made in Glasgow.

 

The commitment to stop deforestation in this decade is especially popular, and each agreement that Morning Consult asked about enjoys majority approval from the American public:

  • 67% approve of the commitment made by over 100 countries, including the U.S., to stop deforestation by 2030
  • 63% approve of the pledge made by over 100 countries, including the U.S., to reduce global methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels by 2030
  • 62% approve of the joint announcement made by the U.S. and China that the two countries would work together to slow global warming during this decade
  • 57% approve of the pledge made by over 40 countries to stop the use of coal power domestically
  • 56% approve of the commitment made by about 20 countries, including the U.S., to stop public financing of fossil fuel projects abroad
  • 54% approve of the framework agreed to by nearly 200 countries, including the U.S., that ramps up carbon reduction pledges, phases out some fossil fuels and boosts aid to poor countries facing the most pronounced effects of climate change, but falls short of avoiding warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels

 

The poll also asked about three goals that President Biden “recommitted” the U.S. to at the conference, and again found majority approval for each one:

  • 62% approve of the U.S. cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030
  • 60% approve of the U.S. achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035
  • 54% approve of the U.S. achieving a net-zero economy by 2050

 

Harvard Institute of Politics

Most young Americans expect climate change to impact their major life decisions (Release, Topline, Crosstabs)

 

The Harvard Institute of Politics released the results of their biannual survey of 18- to 29-year-old Americans this week, which included several questions about young people’s climate attitudes.

 

The poll asked respondents an open-ended question about what national issue concerned them most and, while no single response garnered a very high percentage, the environment (9%) was the only response that rivaled the economy (12%) and COVID-19 (9%) as the top answer.

 

The survey also demonstrated widespread support for climate action and personal connection to the issue. A majority (55%) believe the U.S. isn’t doing enough to address climate change, while just 14% believe the country is doing too much and 12% say it’s doing enough. Most also believe that the United States should “take the lead in addressing climate change” (53%), as opposed to letting other countries and the United Nations take the lead in addressing the issue (22%).

 

And in their own lives, the majority of young Americans (56%) say they expect climate change to have at least some impact on their future decisions, such as where to live and the kind of work they might do.