Environmental Polling Roundup - January 6th, 2023
David Gold, Environmental Polling Consortium

This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on climate change as an issue priority, President Biden’s handling of climate change and environmental issues, and the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps.

 

 

HEADLINES

  • AP + UChicago NORC - Climate and the environment rose as public priorities in the second half of 2022, and now rank as the top issue area for Democrats (Release, Topline, Report)
  • The Economist + YouGov - President Biden starts the year with mixed ratings on his handling of climate change and the environment (Topline, Crosstabs)
  • Data for Progress - Voters continue to overwhelmingly support the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (Article, Crosstabs)

 

 

GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT

  • [Issue Priority] More Americans name climate change and the environment as the single “most important issue” to them than any other issue aside from inflation/prices, health care, and the economy/jobs [The Economist + YouGov]
  • [Civilian Climate Corps] Voters support the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps by a 63%-24% margin after reading a brief, one-sentence description of the proposal [Data for Progress]
  • [Civilian Climate Corps] After reading arguments for and against the idea, voters support President Biden establishing a Civilian Climate Corps through executive order by a 52%-37% margin [Data for Progress]

 

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The public is eager for further action on climate change in 2023. A new AP-NORC poll finds that more Americans name climate change or the environment top-of-mind as priorities for the government in 2023 than any other issues aside from the economy, inflation, and immigration. This follows up on previous AP-NORC polling from September that showed that more than three-fifths of Americans believe the government isn’t doing enough to reduce climate change, demonstrating that the public wants further climate action above and beyond the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Climate and the environment continue to outrank other issue priorities for Democratic voters. Climate and the environment regularly ranked among the very top tier of Democratic voters’ issue priorities throughout 2022, and the new AP-NORC poll finds that climate/environment is now Democrats’ clear top priority when they are prompted to name the most important issues for the government to address.
  • The Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) is intuitively appealing as a way to create jobs while combating environmental crises. Polling from Data for Progress has consistently shown broad majority support for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps, and they again find overwhelming support for the CCC in a new poll. Job creation and protection of public lands both regularly poll among the public’s most important concerns with regard to environmental policy, helping to explain why the CCC is so enduringly popular as it combines these two priorities.

 

 

FULL ROUNDUP

 

AP + UChicago NORC

Climate and the environment rose as public priorities in the second half of 2022, and now rank as the top issue area for Democrats (Release, Topline, Report)

 

The latest AP-NORC poll focuses on the American public’s priorities heading into the new year, and they find that climate change ranks among Americans’ highest top-of-mind issue priorities for 2023.

 

In an open-ended question (i.e., allowing respondents to volunteer responses in their own words instead of choosing from a set list of options), the AP-NORC poll asked people to name the problems that they would “like the government to be working on in the year 2023.” 

 

Roughly one-quarter of Americans (26%) proactively name climate change or the environment as one of the top 2023 priorities for the government in this format, ranking climate change and the environment as higher public priorities than any other issue aside from the economy (31%), inflation (30%), and immigration (27%).

 

This marks a nine-point increase in the percentage of Americans naming climate change and the environment as a priority (26%, up from 17%) since The AP and NORC previously asked this question in June 2022.

 

And consistent with other public polling, the AP-NORC poll finds that climate change has become the top issue priority for Democrats. Climate/environment was the number one most cited issue area by self-identified Democrats in the poll (40%) and ranked ten points clear of the next largest concerns for Democrats, gun issues (30%) and the economy (30%).

 

The Economist + YouGov

President Biden starts the year with mixed ratings on his handling of climate change and the environment (Topline, Crosstabs)

 

The Economist and YouGov find that Americans are divided on President Biden’s handling of climate change and the environment (40% approve / 43% approve). 

 

The public holds similarly mixed attitudes about the way President Biden is handling his job overall (44% approve / 46% disapprove), as well as his handling of other major issues such as jobs and the economy (41% approve / 46% disapprove), health care (41% approve / 41% disapprove), and abortion (36% approve / 44% disapprove).

 

As with all questions relating to Biden’s job performance, The Economist and YouGov find that attitudes about Biden’s handling of climate change and the environment are sharply driven by partisanship. Democrats approve of the way Biden is handling climate change and the environment by a 71%-17% margin and Republicans disapprove of how he’s handling climate and the environment by a 68%-19% margin. Meanwhile, independents tilt toward disapproving of Biden’s performance on the issue (27% approve / 47% disapprove), though a substantial portion of independents (26%) don’t know enough to give an opinion.

 

At a closer look, though, while partisan polarization is the dominant theme here, it’s mitigated somewhat on both ends as Democrats are slightly less approving of Biden’s performance on climate change and the environment than on economic issues and Republicans are slightly more approving of how he’s handled climate change and the environment relative to economic issues.

 

Specifically, Democrats approve of Biden’s handling of jobs and the economy by a 59-point margin (75% approve / 16% disapprove) and approve of his handling of climate change and the environment by a slightly lower 54-point margin (71% approve / 17% disapprove).

 

Dissatisfaction with Biden’s work on climate and the environment among Democrats appears to be driven by the party’s left flank, with ideological liberals (68% approve / 22% disapprove, +46 net approval) less approving than Democrats overall (71% approve / 17% disapprove, +54 net approval).

 

While the differences in Biden’s approval ratings across issues aren’t huge, this poll provides further evidence that climate change is one of the issues preventing Biden from maximizing his standing with base Democrats. More focus on climate change from the White House could help bolster Biden’s status with progressive Democrats in particular.

 

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans overwhelmingly disapprove of how Biden is handling climate change and the environment (19% approve / 68% disapprove, -49 net approval) but not to the same extent that they disapprove of his handling of jobs and the economy (17% approve / 76% disapprove, -59 net approval).

 

This is consistent with other polling that shows Republican voters don’t uniformly agree with congressional Republicans’ opposition to Biden’s climate agenda. In a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, for example, climate change was the issue on which Republican voters were least likely to say that they trust Republicans in Congress.

 

Data for Progress

Voters continue to overwhelmingly support the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (Article, Crosstabs)

 

Data for Progress’s polling has consistently shown that voters support the idea of creating a Civilian Climate Corps. This latest poll finds that voters support the Civilian Climate Corps proposal by a commanding 39-point margin (63% support / 24% oppose) when provided with the following description:

 

“Some lawmakers are considering establishing a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). A CCC would consist of a national climate service program offering training and good-paying jobs to young Americans in order to address the threat of climate change and maintain America's public lands.”

 

The poll also goes a step further in gaming out how the public would respond to the creation of a CCC through executive order by President Biden, which appears to be the most plausible path forward with a divided Congress.

 

After reading back-and-forth arguments for and against Biden taking executive action to create the program - including a positive argument focusing on the jobs it would create and a negative argument saying it would be better to “wait for a bipartisan agreement on funding” for the program - voters say they would support an executive order to create the Civilian Climate Corps by a 15-point margin (52% support / 37% oppose).

 

This new data provides further evidence of the enduring appeal of the Civilian Climate Corps, as there remains a clear public appetite for the program after it was dropped from the final version of the Inflation Reduction Act.

 

 

 

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