This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including newly released national survey data from Yale and George Mason on Americans’ attitudes about climate and clean energy, new polling on climate as a factor in the midterm elections for AAPI voters, and new state-level polling in Arizona about climate and clean energy.
- Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) + George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication (Mason 4C) - Younger Americans are growing more concerned about global warming, and climate attitudes are diverging between conservative and non-conservative Republicans (Article, Interactive Tool)
- [AAPI Voters] Navigator - Climate change was one of the top reasons why AAPI voters supported Democratic candidates in the midterms (Release, Deck)
- [Arizona] American Lung Association - Arizonans want additional investment on top of the Inflation Reduction Act to boost clean energy in the state, and overwhelmingly believe that the clean energy transition will benefit the state economy (Release, Topline, Memo)
- Young Americans are driving the shift toward greater national acceptance of climate change. Public understanding of climate change and its human causes has been rising over the past several years, and newly released data from Yale and George Mason shows that this shift is due in large part to increasing awareness of climate change among younger Americans aged 18-29. By comparison, climate attitudes among older generations have been relatively static in recent years. It’s an encouraging sign for the future of the movement that Gen Z appears to be the most climate-conscious generation to date, but more research is needed to understand how to change the minds of older Americans - who appear to have more settled sets of beliefs on the issue.
- There is a growing divide within the Republican electorate on climate and clean energy. The new survey data from Yale and George Mason also shows that the climate attitudes among conservative and non-conservative Republicans have been diverging in recent years, to the point that on many metrics - from concern about climate change to support for research into renewables - non-conservative Republicans’ opinions are actually more in line with those of liberal Democrats than with conservatives from their own party. These findings indicate that there is plenty of opportunity for climate advocates to persuade or mobilize Republican audiences with the right targeting strategy, and also demonstrate that anti-climate politicians now risk alienating a large portion of the Republican electorate.
- Arizona has become a reliably pro-clean energy swing state. New polling by the American Lung Association shows overwhelming support for clean energy expansion among Arizona voters, who widely recognize that climate change is already impacting their area of the country and believe that the state stands to benefit economically from transitioning to clean energy. These findings are consistent with a great deal of other polling out of Arizona in the last couple of years, as Arizona has become a great example of a purple state where pro-climate and pro-clean energy stances are clearly good politics.
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 and health care [The Economist + YouGov]
- [AAPI Voters] Climate change and the environment is the issue area that AAPI voters were most likely to say was a reason to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections [Navigator]
- [Arizona] 72% of Arizona voters agree that using more clean energy like wind and solar would create quality jobs and strengthen Arizona's economy [American Lung Association]
- [Arizona] 66% of Arizona voters agree that using more clean energy like wind and solar would save Arizona families money [American Lung Association]
- [Arizona] Majorities of Arizona voters say that the state should be using more energy from solar (74%) and wind (59%), while few want to see the state use more energy from fossil gas (15%), oil (13%), or coal (10%) [American Lung Association]
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) + George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication (Mason 4C)
YPCCC and Mason 4C have updated their fantastic Climate Change in the American Mind (CCAM) Explorer tool with data from their 2022 surveys, allowing anyone to dive into their survey data and to create charts comparing Americans’ climate attitudes between demographics, political views, and time periods going back to 2008.
The article linked above pulls out some of their major insights from tracking different groups’ attitudes over time, including that young Americans are driving increased climate acceptance in the country while attitudes among older age groups have generally held steady in recent years. Excerpting from the article, with emphasis added in bold:
“While public acceptance and worry about global warming have increased over the last decade, acceptance and worry have increased faster among younger Americans aged 18-34 compared to older Americans.
For example, since 2012, more young adults today accept that global warming is happening (+13% points from 68% in 2012 to 81% in 2022) and already harming the U.S. (+24% from 40% in 2012 to 64% in 2022).
Younger Americans have also surpassed older Americans on some measures of policy support, including funding more research into renewables (+19% points from 69% in 2012 to 88% in 2022) and regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (+14% points from 66% in 2012 to 82% in 2022).
Younger Americans are also much more likely to discuss global warming today than they were a decade ago (+15% points from 19% in 2012 to 34% in 2022).”
These shifts in attitudes among young Americans are particularly notable when compared to the relatively static attitudes of older age groups.
For example, in 2012, age was not a major predictor of climate acceptance: young Americans aged 18-34 were just about as likely to acknowledge that global warming is happening (68%) as Americans aged 35-54 (70%) or Americans aged 55+ (66%).
Now, in 2022, young Americans aged 18-34 (81%) are 10 points more likely to acknowledge global warming than Americans aged 35-54 (71%) and 14 points more likely to acknowledge global warming than Americans aged 55+ (67%).
The article additionally highlights that there is a growing divide between conservative and non-conservative Republicans on climate issues. In fact, the partisan divide around climate issues has become less a matter of Democrats and Republicans holding different opinions and more a case of specifically ideologically conservative Republicans holding different opinions from everybody else.
On metrics such as worrying about climate change (62% of non-conservative Republicans, compared to 96% of liberal Democrats and 23% of conservative Republicans) and supporting research into renewable energy (77% support among non-conservative Republicans, compared to 97% among liberal Democrats and 52% among conservative Republicans), non-conservative Republicans actually hold climate-related views that are closer to the views of liberal Democrats than they are to conservative members of their own party.
[AAPI Voters] Navigator
This new Navigator analysis of the attitudes and motivations of AAPI voters in the midterms confirms that AAPI voters were one of many groups that were particularly swayed by Democrats’ climate stances in the midterms.
After asking whether 15 different issue areas were “more of a reason to support Democrats” in the election or “more of a reason to support Republicans,” Navigator finds that climate and the environment was the issue area that AAPI voters were most likely to describe as a reason to vote for Democrats in this election.
Over three in five AAPI voters (64%) said that the environment and climate change were “more of a reason to support Democrats,” ranking climate and the environment just ahead of the cost of quality health care and prescription drugs (61%), the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade (60%), and the events surrounding January 6th (60%) as reasons to vote for Democrats over Republicans.
In a separate question asking voters who supported Democrats to select their top reasons for voting for Democratic candidates this year, Democrats’ stances on abortion (44% major reason) and taxing the wealthy (41%) were the only two issues that AAPI voters were more likely to cite as major reasons for their vote than Democrats’ stances on climate change (38%).
[Arizona] American Lung Association
Arizonans want additional investment on top of the Inflation Reduction Act to boost clean energy in the state, and overwhelmingly believe that the clean energy transition will benefit the state economy (Release, Topline, Memo)
We’ve seen a good amount of polling out of Arizona over the last year or so on climate change and energy issues, including from Sierra Club and the Center for Western Priorities, and this new poll from the American Lung Association provides even more evidence that clean energy is tremendously popular with Arizona’s electorate.
Even after learning that Congress has passed $369 billion in new funding to expand clean energy and combat climate change, Arizonans agree by a greater than two-to-one margin (64% agree / 28% disagree) with a statement that “this action by the federal government is a good start, but Arizona still needs to invest more to move to clean energy, clean up our air, and reduce the pollution that causes climate change.”
Further, the majority of Arizona voters say that they would feel more favorably toward their state legislator if their legislator supported investing more in clean energy, clean air, and reducing climate pollution (59% more favorable / 18% less favorable).
Encouragingly, the poll finds that economic arguments in favor of clean energy resonate with Arizona voters - a major solar-producing state that also has a ton of untapped wind energy potential.
Arizonans have positive attitudes about wind and solar energy companies (70% favor / 16% unfavorable), especially in contrast to oil and gas companies (42% favorable / 47% favorable), and Arizona voters overwhelmingly recognize the economic benefits of clean energy for the state and country:
- 72% agree that using more clean energy like wind and solar would create quality jobs and strengthen Arizona’s economy
- 70% agree that America should make significant investments in clean energy as part of our efforts to rebuild the economy
On the ever-important question of consumer costs, the poll also finds that nearly two-thirds of Arizonans agree that using more clean energy like wind and solar would save Arizona families money (66% agree / 23% disagree). However, they are relatively less convinced that the clean energy transition will have a positive impact on the finances of families like theirs (52% positive / 30% negative), so there’s clearly still a great deal of education required to show Arizonans how they would personally economically benefit from the clean energy transition.
When it comes to specific energy sources, majorities say that they want the state to produce more energy from solar (74%) and wind (59%), while few want to see Arizona produce more energy from fossil gas (15%), oil (13%), or coal (10%). Using a split-sample experiment, the poll finds that Arizonans are far less inclined to generate more power from “fossil gas” (15% more / 39% less) than “natural gas” (29% more / 17% less) - providing further backing to the idea that clean energy advocates should avoid the word “natural” when possible in describing gas as an energy source.
The poll also explored justice-focused arguments and found that Arizonans widely believe that the clean energy transition should protect and invest in the communities that have been most impacted by pollution:
- 68% agree that as we move the country to clean energy, we should make sure that we protect communities more impacted by harmful pollution, including low-income communities, communities of color, and Native American communities
- 64% agree that as we move the country to clean energy, we should make sure that our investments benefit the communities most impacted by pollution, including Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities
On climate change, the poll finds that Arizona voters widely recognize that their part of the country is already feeling the impacts of climate change and want greater climate action at the state level that is guided by science and experts:
- 72% agree that we should let science and experts guide our response to climate change
- 65% agree that climate change is already having a serious impact on this part of the country
- 62% agree that Arizona policymakers need to do more to combat climate change
- 55% agree that Governor-elect Katie Hobbs should do more to combat climate change than Governor Doug Ducey did
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 firstname.lastname@example.org