Public Opinion Is Shifting - We Need To Be Thinking Ahead



On issues of climate change and clean energy, public opinion and demographics are changing, and Republicans will need to respond. Voters have always prioritized growing the economy, creating jobs, and enacting policies that will help unburden middle-class families. But Americans are concerned about climate change, and there are ways for us to address those concerns while protecting and growing our economy.

Polling shows that the majority of Republican voters are concerned about climate change and want government to take action.

 

A majority of Republican voters say “climate change is happening,” increasing by 16% in the past two years, from 40% to 56% today.1

Nearly 7 of every 10 Republican voters (68%) say the government should take action to address climate change.2

Nearly 70% of Republican voters (69%) say the benefits of taking action on climate change outweigh the costs.

When it comes to the ballot box, by a 2-1 margin, Republican voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who has a plan to address climate change.

Critical voter groups that are essential for the future success of the Republican Party, including Millennials and Hispanics, are even more concerned than the average voter.

 

Nearly 8 in 10 millennials (77%) are concerned or very concerned about climate change.

Nearly 70% of Republican millennials believe the federal government should take action on climate change immediately or within 10 years.

Four of 5 Hispanics (80%) are concerned or very concerned about climate change.

We need to be “for” a solution and not cede the issue if we want to form winning electoral coalitions. Republican voters’ preferred solution is a market-based approach that relies less on government regulation and bureaucracy and more on private-sector innovation that builds a clean-energy future. They strongly oppose government picking winners and losers in the marketplace through taxpayer-funded handouts. And they are receptive to the idea of a conservative carbon tax policy.

By more than a 2-1 margin, Republicans favor a market-based approach to climate change over more government regulations.

Support for a carbon tax among Republican voters grows from 35% to 51% after respondents hear strong arguments both for and against the concept.

What Republican Political Experts Are Saying

“It’s important for Republican candidates to talk about the issue intelligently and not be dismissive of climate change. The way you talk about climate change sends a signal to millennials about how sensitive you are to the environment. Millennials recently passed baby boomers to become the largest generation, so any party that hopes to own the future politically needs to be attractive to millennials.”3 – Whit Ayres

Mr. Ayres is a veteran Republican survey research and political consultant who has served on many national, state and local campaigns.

“It’s important for the next generation of Republicans to show that they get it, and that they’re not just playing the old orthodoxy.”4Kevin Sheridan

Mr. Sheridan was Communications Director for the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan. He has previously worked for the George W. Bush Administration and at the Republican National Committee.

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References

1. Yale PCC Tracking Survey

2. Morning Consult Tracking poll, July, 2015; n = 2,015

3. www.nytimes.com/2016/08/02/us/politics/climate-change-divide-bursts-to-forefront-in-presidential-campaign.html?_r=0

4. Ibid.