Tripartisan Support for Energy & Environment Solutions

Contributors to the Independent Center: Kyle Simpson, President of KSE LLC, and Brett Loyd, President of the nonpartisan Bullfinch Group

First, it should be stated that “energy and the environment” is not necessarily a most important issue facing America (according to the American people). Among registered voters, only 4% nationwide say that energy and the environment is the most pressing issue in America today. 

It’s also worth noting that those who say that energy and the environment is the most important issue, are disproportionately Democratic.

 All Reg VotersSelf-ID DemocraticSelf-ID IndependentSelf-ID Republican
Top Issue: Energy/Environment4%8%4%1%

However, if we break out ‘energy and the environment’ into ‘energy’ and (separately) ‘the environment’, we find that there is a lot tripartisan agreement on the issues.

On the energy side of this, we asked voters Over the past year or two, would you say that your household energy/electric bill has (ROTATE) become more expensive, become less expensive or stayed about the same? What we found is that a majority of voters across party lines had the same response – that their energy bill has increased over the past year or two.

 All Reg VotersSelf-ID DemocraticSelf-ID IndependentSelf-ID Republican
Energy bill has become more expensive65%60%64%73%

From the Independent Center perspective, this is insightful because now we can see that this issue is one that a majority of voters from across the political spectrum share the same sentiment. And as now a plurality of Americas align somewhere in the middle of the road politically (according to Gallup), this seems like an issue that could have solutions where majorities agree.

On the environment side, we asked voters Do you think human actions cause and/or accelerate climate change?  Again, we see that a majority of voters across party lines agree (that human actions cause and/or accelerate climate change):

 All Reg VotersSelf-ID DemocraticSelf-ID IndependentSelf-ID Republican
Yes (Definitely or to some extent)74%86%75%60%

Now recognize that self-identified Democrats say that human actions accelerate climate change by 26 points more than self-identified Republicans, however, a majority of both groups say ‘yes’ to this question. Moreover, less than 1-in-3 Republicans (32%), Independents (19%) or Democrats (7%) say ‘no’ to this question, showing that ‘opposition’ sentiment is fairly low across the political spectrum.

As for solutions in bringing together ‘energy’ and ‘the environment’, we asked the people which candidate would you be most likely to vote for? As for responses, we tried to identify a candidate who would have a liberal approach to the solution, a candidate who would have a moderate approach to the solution, and a candidate who would have conservative approach to the solution.

 All Reg VotersSelf-ID DemocraticSelf-ID IndependentSelf-ID Republican
A candidate who pledges more government funding for legislation that will eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and tax companies who leave a carbon footprint.  34%51%32%19%
A candidate who recognizes climate change and supports solutions that allow individuals to make choices that best support their goals.36%31%38%38%
A candidate who pledges to oppose any new government spending aimed at curbing “climate change.”20%9%20%33%

What we found is that by a narrow margin, a plurality of registered voters favor the ‘middle of the road’ approach to this issue, by favoring a candidate who recognizes climate change and supports solutions that allow individuals to make choices that best support their goals. In fact, a plurality of self-identified Republicans and Independents favor this candidate over any other candidate on the spectrum.

To really find out where people align on the ‘solution’ for energy and the environment, we broke the issue out even further to really explore the best, most agreeable approach to a solution on this issue. By assigning the ‘liberal’ candidate response as a ‘1’, the ‘moderate’ candidate as a ‘2’, and the ‘conservative’ candidate as ‘3’, we broke out ideal candidate average by all registered voters (total), and by self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

By breaking the data out this way, it shows that while Independents and voters as a whole zero in on a ‘moderate’ candidate solution to energy and the environment, it also shows that self-identified democrats lean toward the ‘moderate’ candidate over the ‘liberal’ candidate, and that Republicans lean toward the ‘moderate’ candidate over the ‘conservative’ candidate. As such, a candidate stance on energy and the environment that recognizes climate change and supports solutions that allow individuals to make choices that best support their goals would be most agreeable to registered voters. 

While that policy solution is wildly vague, we can see that it is favored over expanding government funding for legislation that eliminates pollution and emissions, and over opposing any new government spending aimed at curbing ‘climate change.’ Which, while still requiring elected officials to come to the table, we can see that public sentiment does not favor the political extremes on this particular issue.

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