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American Voters Support Climate Action

Climate action: image of sign that reads "Earths is more valuable than money" with a world drawing | Climate Nuxus Polls

Poll: American Voters Support Climate Action

7 in 10 registered voters support government action to address climate change
Democrats rank climate as a top-two issue when deciding their vote for president.

A new poll released today finds registered voters in the United States have deep concerns about climate change and want the government to take action. Voters support policies to reduce carbon pollution and protect Americans from climate impacts. The poll comes as events across the month of September will elevate climate change in the national conversation, including two televised Democratic presidential candidate climate forums, a third Democratic presidential primary debate, and the United Nations climate summit in New York. 

Democratic voters say climate change is a top-tier issue in determining their vote for president in 2020. When asked to state the two most important issues to their presidential vote, Democrats identify health care as the most important issue (40%), followed by climate change (28%) and gun policy (24%). Seventeen percent of registered voters overall select climate change as one of the two most important issues that will determine their vote.

Voters overall are more likely to back candidates who support specific policies to address climate change. Nearly three-quarters of registered voters (74%) say they are more likely to support candidates who favor setting stronger pollution limits for business and industry, and seven in 10 say they are more likely to support candidates who favor setting stronger fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks (70%), requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on their carbon pollution (70%), and providing assistance to communities losing jobs in the oil, gas, and coal industries (70%). More than six in 10 (62%) voters also say they are more likely to support candidates who favor ensuring protection of low-income and minority communities that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts.

“Climate change is now a top priority among Democratic voters ,” said ​Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication. “Democratic candidates must now compete for the ‘climate vote’ in the primaries and this September will be pivotal. ”

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) voters are worried about climate change, including more than a third (35%) who are very worried. Voters say climate change is impacting U.S. agriculture (73%), extreme weather events in the U.S. (72%), the health of Americans (61%), the U.S. economy (59%), and their own family’s health (50%).

Seven in 10 American voters support government action to address climate change, including more than four in 10 (42%) who strongly support it. A large majority (71%) of voters supports establishing a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requiring 100% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2050, and nearly half of voters (49%) would approve of the federal government using their tax dollars to help pay for the transition to 100% renewable-generated energy. Majorities say enacting a national 100% RPS would have a positive impact on the environment in the U.S. (77%) and the U.S. economy (61%), bring down electricity costs (61%), and benefit rural and farming communities (56%).

Some three-quarters of American voters (76%) say it’s important to invest in building infrastructure to be better able to withstand the effects of climate change; they also want upgrades to existing infrastructure (74%) and new infrastructure projects (75%) be built to withstand extreme weather, even when those upgrades come at a higher cost to taxpayers.

“Most Americans see that climate change has arrived and is already causing harm,” said​ Dr. ​Edward Maibach, Director of ​George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication​.  “They also support a range of science-based solutions for fighting climate change, because they understand that these solutions will be good for their families and their communities.”

For more detail on the poll results, please see the ​summary memo​ and the ​poll toplines​.

To assess voters’ attitudes toward various climate policies, as well as their experiences with impacts of climate change, Climate Nexus, in partnership with the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, conducted a representative survey of 2,208 registered voters nationwide from August 20-22, 2019. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 2.1% at the 95% confidence level.