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Georgia Voters Support Climate Action

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Poll: Georgia Voters Support Climate Action

Nearly two-thirds favor making renewables a priority, establishing 100% RPS law
Majorities more likely to vote for candidates supporting climate-friendly policies
Biden leads primary field; Biden, Warren, Sanders within margin vs. Trump in head-to-head matchups

A new poll released today finds that Georgia voters support a broad array of policies to address climate impacts and increase production of renewable energy in the state, and they want their elected officials to support those policies. The poll comes ahead of the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate, in Georgia on November 20th, as climate is increasingly playing a major role in candidates’ campaigns.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Georgians think developing more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, should be the most important priority for addressing Georgia’s energy needs, significantly more than those who say building more natural gas (9%) or nuclear (9%) power plants should be the top priority. Three-quarters (75%) support increasing government funding for renewable energy, including close to half (45%) who strongly support such a policy, and more than eight in 10 (81%) support measures to expand community solar projects in their local areas. 

Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Georgia voters support establishing a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in the state. Majorities say a 100% RPS in Georgia would have a positive impact on the state’s environment (77%), will improve Georgians’ health (70%), lower electricity costs (65%), improve the state’s economy (64%), benefit Georgia’s rural and farming communities (61%), improve wages for Georgia workers (53%) and lower the state’s unemployment rate (51%), and nearly half of Georgia voters say a 100% RPS will benefit white communities (48%) and communities of color (46%) in the state.

“Georgians recognize that clean energy will make their lives better,” said ​Dr. ​Edward Maibach, Director of ​George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, “They’re eager for Georgia to adopt policies that make renewables the dominant sources of energy in their state.”

Georgians report already seeing the impacts of climate change in their state, and want their leaders to do something about it. Close to two-thirds (65%) say climate change is having a large or some impact on the state’s agriculture, and roughly six in 10 say climate change is impacting extreme weather events in Georgia (62%) and the health of the state’s residents (58%). Majorities of Georgia voters also say climate change is impacting the state’s economy (54%) and their family’s health (51%).

At least seven in 10 Georgia voters say they would be more likely to support a candidate for political office who favors increasing government funding for renewable energy (71%) or setting stronger fuel efficiency standards (70%). Roughly two-thirds would be more likely to support candidates who favor requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on their carbon pollution (67%) or requiring electric utility companies to achieve a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 100% renewable energy by 2050 (66%).

“Supporting climate-friendly policies is a winning proposition in Georgia,” said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

More than three in 10 (31%) Georgia voters who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, which will take place on March 24, 2020, select Joe Biden as their top choice, and 14% each pick Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Four percent each pick Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, with all other candidates receiving no more than 2%. Nearly one in five (19%) say they prefer another candidate or are unsure who they would like to see as the Democratic presidential nominee.

When asked how they would vote if the election for president were held today, Joe Biden (48% to Trump’s 47%), Elizabeth Warren (47% to Trump’s 47%), and Bernie Sanders (46% to Trump’s 48%) come within the margin of error to Trump, while Kamala Harris (44% to Trump’s 49%) and Pete Buttigieg (42% to Trump’s 49%) trail the incumbent.

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 789 registered Georgia voters from November 4-10, 2019. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.6% at the 95% confidence level.