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Environmental Polling Roundup – May 24, 2024





Following news about President Trump’s dinner at Mar-A-Lago with oil executives last month, at which he reportedly asked for $1 billion and vowed to cater to the industry by removing environmental protections if elected, Climate Power and Data for Progress find that voters have a deeply negative reaction to this type of pandering to fossil fuel interests. 

For most voters, pandering to the fossil fuel industry would force them to reconsider or rule out voting for a candidate. Nearly one-third of voters (31%) say that it would be a deal-breaker for them if “a candidate for elected office told oil and gas industry executives that donating to their campaign would be a ‘deal’ for them because of the taxation and regulation they would avoid.”

An additional 30% say that this information would make them “reconsider” their decision to vote for that candidate, while only around one-quarter (26%) agree that “this news would not be a deal-breaker for me and I could still vote for that candidate.”

After learning that it was Trump who tried to solicit oil industry donations with promises of handouts to the industry, voters say that they are less likely to vote for him and express strong concerns about a possible second term.

After reading about Trump’s promises to oil industry executives at Mar-A-Lago, most voters (58%) say that they are concerned about a potential second term for Trump. This includes two in five (42%) who are “very concerned” about a second term for Trump.

Additionally, voters are about twice as likely to say that Trump’s promises to oil industry executives make them less likely to vote for him (45%) than to say that this information makes them more likely to vote for him (23%).

The backlash against Trump’s oil industry pandering is particularly pronounced among key audiences including independent voters (17% more likely to vote for Trump / 47% less likely) and Black voters (16% more likely / 60% less likely). 

Voters have deep concerns about several of President Trump’s actions and connections to the fossil fuel industry. More than two in five voters find each of the following pieces of information “very concerning” as it relates to a potential second term for Trump:

Voters say that cracking down on corporate greed should be the top priority for addressing inflation. The majority of voters rate “cracking down on corporations that are price gouging on things like food and gas” (58%) as a “top priority” (9-10 on a 0-10 scale of prioritization) for the government to deal with inflation, ahead of other possible solutions such as reining in the high cost of health care and prescription drugs (53%), cutting government spending and debt (46%), and making it easier to buy or rent a home (45%).

On a related note, Navigator also recently found that voters rate oil and gas companies as the greediest companies in the country

Most voters say that switching to lower cost clean energy should also be a priority for addressing inflation. Nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) rate it as a “priority” (7+ on a 0-10 scale) for the government to address inflation by “bringing down energy bills by switching to lower cost clean energy,” including about one-third (36%) who rate it as a “top priority” (9-10). 

New rules for “forever chemicals” are overwhelmingly popular. Following recent EPA actions to clean up PFAS contamination, nearly four in five voters (79%) say that they support these actions to designate certain “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances that polluters are required to pay to clean up. 

The majority of voters (55%) strongly support these rules on “forever chemicals,” and the new rules are popular across the political spectrum with 83% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and 77% of Republicans all in favor. 

CBS News and YouGov relatedly found in a recent poll that President Biden’s action to reduce toxic chemicals in drinking water is his most popular environmental accomplishment. 

Yale and GMU have released a new version of their CCAM Explorer tool, allowing advocates to explore Americans’ attitudes on a range of climate-related questions over time and within particular political and demographic subgroups going back to 2008.

A growing majority of Americans recognize that global warming is happening and human-caused. Between 2010 and 2023, the share of Americans who recognize that global warming is happening grew by 14 percentage points in Yale and GMU’s data (from 59% to 73%). The percentage who attribute global warming to human activities also increased by double digits, from 48% in 2010 up to 59% in 2023.

Americans have become much more likely to see global warming as an immediate threat to them and other Americans. The belief that global warming is either harming people in the U.S. now or will do so within the next ten years has increased sharply since 2010, from 38% up to 57%.

Over that same time period, Americans have become 13 points more likely to say that global warming will harm them personally (from 33% to 46%).

Growth in climate understanding is largely driven by Democrats, with additional gains among center and center-right voters. Yale and GMU’s trends show that Democrats have become much more unified in their climate beliefs over the past decade or so. Large and growing majorities of liberal Democrats (87%, +26 since 2010) and non-liberal Democrats (74%, +25 since 2010) say that global warming is either harming Americans now or will do so in the next 10 years.

The majority of independents (60%, +18 since 2010) and nearly half of non-conservative Republicans (48%, +21 since 2010) have also come to view global warming as a threat to Americans either now or in the next 10 years, though conservative Republicans (19%, +4 since 2010) consistently deny that global warming poses an immediate threat to the country.

In a series of focus groups with persuadable Latino voters in battleground states (AZ, GA, NC, and NV), Climate Power en Acción finds that these voters come to see President Biden as a more effective president after they learn about his climate and clean energy accomplishments. Additionally, information about Trump’s climate record raises real concerns with this audience. 

These findings are largely consistent with polling that we’ve seen on the candidates’ climate records, as most voters are not aware of the sharp contrast between Biden and Trump on the issue – both because voters are unfamiliar with Biden’s climate accomplishments and because they don’t know about or don’t recall Trump’s climate denialism.

Pulling the six key takeaways from Climate Power en Acción’s focus group memo with BSP Research:

  1. Focus group participants did not credit President Biden with his accomplishments, mainly because they were still not fully aware of the Biden Administration’s historical progress on climate and clean energy issues, including serving historically underrepresented communities.
  2. When informed of Biden’s climate and clean energy accomplishments, there was positive momentum in favor of Biden. Awareness of President Biden’s clean energy plan improved perceptions of his effectiveness and positive economic impact under his administration.
  3. Trump’s record seems to be either forgotten or not top of mind among our focus group participants, despite awareness of the negative impacts caused by his first-term policies on the Latino community. This situation arises from a lack of recognition for Biden’s achievements and a sense of nostalgia for the pre-pandemic economy.
  4. We see a meaningful change in conversations when participants are reminded of Trump’s destructive record while contrasting it with Biden’s achievements. In their view, Trump stands only for himself and his corporate allies – this includes his plans to roll back climate and clean energy progress.
  5. When contrasting Biden’s and Trump’s presidencies in relation to their climate and clean energy records, Biden stood out as an advocate for climate action among participants, who worry about Trump’s denial of climate change and the potential reversal of Biden’s progress if Trump is given another term.
  6. When messaging on President Biden’s climate and clean energy achievements, getting the basics right goes a long way: namely, communicating facts about President Biden’s clean energy accomplishments and authenticity.

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