Now Is Our Last, Best Chance to Act on Climate, and Voters Want Congress to Take Action

Since President Biden introduced his Build Back Better agenda last spring, lawmakers in Congress have been negotiating a spending package that would make historic investments to address climate change and expand clean energy production. With Congress back in Washington for several weeks, lawmakers are continuing discussions around passing a bill that would address the dual crises of climate change and high energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an April 2022 national survey, Data for Progress and Climate Power assessed likely voters’ views toward expanding clean energy production in America. We find that lawmakers have a mandate from voters to invest in domestic clean energy production and voters agree these investments will increase America’s energy security.

Voters recognize that climate change is not something that will happen in the distant future, but rather is happening now and even in their own backyards. Overall, a majority of voters acknowledge that either America, their community or state, or they personally have experienced the impacts of climate change.

While voters are experiencing climate change, they are also facing higher energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In light of this global crisis, 74 percent of voters say it is “very” or “somewhat” important that Congress take action to address the energy crisis by investing in clean energy. This includes 94 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Republicans who say it is “very” or “somewhat” important that Congress make this investment.

We also find that three-quarters of voters (75 percent) support lawmakers in Congress making an investment to expand clean energy production in America. Voters across party lines agree: Nearly all Democrats (90 percent), over three-quarters of Independents (77 percent), and over half of Republicans (57 percent) support this investment.

Passing a bill to expand clean energy production will be critical for Democrats ahead of the competitive midterm elections in November 2022. Nearly half of all voters (46 percent), including 75 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Independents, say they would be more likely to vote for Democrats in the midterms if they pass a bill to expand domestic clean energy production. Critically, over half of voters under 45 (58 percent) say they would be more likely to vote for Democrats in the midterms if Congress makes this investment. Young voters are a particularly key constituency for Democrats in November.

In addition to supporting a broad investment to expand clean energy production, voters also overwhelmingly support measures that will both lower energy prices for families and reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. Among the most popular policies are improving the reliability of the electricity grid (85 percent support), providing financial assistance for families to make energy efficiency upgrades in their homes (79 percent support), and investing in the research and development of new clean energy technologies (76 percent support). Roughly two-thirds of voters also support tax credits for new clean energy projects (67 percent support) and rebates to make electric vehicles more affordable (65 percent support).

Moreover, voters see an investment to expand domestic clean energy production as a way to increase America’s energy security. Over half of all voters (53 percent), including majorities of Democrats (69 percent) and Independents (53 percent), think this investment will bolster energy security. Even a plurality of Republicans (34 percent) agree an expansion of clean energy production will increase America’s energy security.

As lawmakers in Congress have negotiated a large spending bill over the past year, the size and scope of investments to address climate change and expand clean energy production in America have changed. However, over half of voters (58 percent), including 78 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents, support Congress passing a pared-down version of the Build Back Better plan that was proposed last year. 

Finally, if Congress fails to pass a bill to expand clean energy production in America, half of voters say they would be “disappointed,” while 44 percent say they would be “concerned” and 22 percent say they would be “angry.”

With voters widely supportive of expanding domestic clean energy production, lawmakers should feel confident reaching a deal and passing this investment. By passing this critical investment ahead of the midterms, President Biden and Democrats in Congress can both deliver on their campaign promises to tackle climate change and set America on a path toward a secure, clean energy future.

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By Danielle Deiseroth, Lead Climate Strategist, Data for Progress

Survey Methodology:
From April 25 to 27, 2022, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 1,116 likely voters nationally using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

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2021 In Review: Climate Power Polling Memo

Looking Ahead to 2022 Elections, Voters Think Climate Action Is Imperative

As the fight continues to pass the Build Back Better Act, and with the midterms just over the horizon, here are five key trends we observed from 2021 that will impact 2022.

1. Voters are increasingly concerned about the impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

From ice storms in Texas to record rainfall in New Jersey to infernos and drought in the West, countless extreme weather events impacted Americans from coast to coast. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication observed a dramatic increase in the share of Americans who are worried about climate change. Data for Progress and Climate Power found that over three-quarters of all voters (78 percent), including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, think that future generations will be more impacted by climate change. An overwhelming 83 percent of voters under 45 express this concern.

2. Though President Biden’s approval rating has dipped, support for the Build Back Better plan — and climate investments — has held steady.

Building upon his campaign pledge to “Build Back Better,” in spring 2021, President Biden introduced the sweeping American Jobs Plan to combat the climate crisis, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, cut costs for families, and create millions of new, good-paying jobs. While many of the infrastructure elements of the American Jobs Plan were included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law in November, key climate and clean energy provisions were folded into the Build Back Better framework that has yet to pass Congress. 

While President Biden’s approval rating has decreased significantly since the start of 2021, support for Biden’s climate and social-spending plans has remained remarkably consistent. Data for Progress and Climate Power polling on the Build Back Better plan in March, April, June, and October of this year found widespread support for the plan when voters are informed of its investments in climate and clean energy. Other pollsters, such as Monmouth University, have observed a similar trend.

 

3. Climate change is a winning issue. 

Climate change has become a core issue in the Democratic Party. As congressional negotiations over the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan reached a fever pitch, Data for Progress and Climate Power surveyed voters in eight frontline congressional districts to assess voters’ opinions toward climate action. We found that a majority of voters in each district — including voters in toss-up districts like IA-03, ME-02, and AZ-01 — said it was important for Congress to make additional investments beyond the bipartisan infrastructure bill to combat climate change and create clean energy jobs.

4. Voters want to transition to cheap and reliable clean energy. 

Throughout fall 2021, Americans started feeling pain at the pump as global energy prices rose. Amid concerns around rising energy prices, Data for Progress and Climate Power found that voters widely support investments in clean energy. Moreover, we found that some of the Build Back Better plan’s most popular climate and clean energy proposals are those that impact energy prices. Among the policies that voters think are most important to pass are investments to improve energy efficiency, subsidies for new clean energy projects, lowering the costs of electric vehicles for consumers, and phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels. 

5. Lawmakers should embrace Build Back Better to deliver tangible wins for their constituents.

Democrats face an uphill battle to retain their congressional majority in 2022 if they don’t deliver on climate priorities. However, passing the Build Back Better plan will deliver what voters want and allow lawmakers to champion these critical victories to their constituents. Data for Congress and Climate Power found that nearly all Democrats (86 percent) and over half of Independents (55 percent) are more likely to back a congressional candidate who supports the Build Back Better plan over a candidate who opposes it.

Lawmakers in Congress must respond to this critical climate moment and pass the Build Back Better Act immediately. Voters will cast their ballots based on legislators’ ability to get climate action done heading into the midterms. As Data for Progress and Climate Power observed throughout 2021, the politics of climate have changed and voters across party lines are growing more concerned about the impacts of climate change. Moreover, climate action has increasingly become a pillar among the voters who delivered President Biden his victory in 2020. Our leaders cannot afford to wait to act, and they should heed the demands of the electorate to take action on climate change. 

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NEW POLL: Americans Want Bold Climate Investments that Create Opportunities at Home and Demonstrate U.S. Leadership Abroad

Americans want the U.S to be the leader in climate action by enacting policies to put the country on a path to cut emissions in half by 2030  

Washington, D.C. –  As Congress nears a possible agreement on a framework to move forward on President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, brand new polling released today by Climate Power and Data for Progress reveals Americans’ desire for strong climate action to remain at its core. The framework, expected to include strong climate and clean energy policies, comes as President Biden set to head to Glasgow, Scotland to attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), where he will discuss global commitments to address climate change with other world leaders. 

The new poll, conducted by Data for Progress in partnership with Climate Power, found that voters across party lines agree that the U.S. should work with other countries to combat the global climate crisis. Three-quarters of all voters (75 percent), including 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents, and 57 percent of Republicans, agree the U.S. should work with other countries to combat climate change and reduce global climate pollution.

Large majorities also believe the climate and clean energy investments in the Build Back Better Act are the most important to pass, including investments in energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, and communities that have been historically hit hard by pollution. The poll also finds that a majority of voters disapprove of lawmakers who would oppose bold climate action and instead, will support candidates in next year’s midterms who get behind the Build Back Better Act’s climate investments. 

“Voters have spoken and they want Congress to pass bold climate action with the Build Back Better Act,” said Noreen Nielsen, senior advisor for  Climate Power. “Now, it’s up to lawmakers to deliver for American families and at the same time, show the world that our nation is still a global climate leader. Congress must meet the moment by passing the Climate Test and building back better in a way that will benefit families now and the generations yet to come.”   

The survey’s key findings include:

  • Three-quarters of all voters (75 percent), including 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents, and 57 percent of Republicans, agree the U.S. should work with other countries to combat climate change and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Voters also think the proposal’s key climate and clean energy proposals are especially important to pass. 
  • 80 percent think it is important for homes, buildings, and schools to be more energy efficient.
  • 79 percent want to see investments in communities negatively affected by pollution.
  • 78 percent of voters support clean electricity performance incentives to encourage utility companies to switch to clean energy. 
  • 72 percent of voters support increasing tax incentives for clean energy projects such as solar and wind energy.
  • 69 percent of voters support making electric vehicles more affordable for consumers.

Finally, by a +28-point margin, voters indicate they are more likely to vote for a candidate in next year’s midterm elections who supports the Build Back Better plan over a candidate who opposes the legislation. Notably, 86 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Independents say they are more likely to back a candidate who supports the Build Back Better plan. 

While a majority of voters support the Build Back Better plan, voters also think the proposal’s key climate and clean energy proposals are especially important to pass.  A majority of voters think it is “Very” or “Somewhat” important that lawmakers pass all of the Build Back Better plan’s key climate and clean energy proposals. Of these, the policies voters think are of the most critical importance are investments to improve energy efficiency in homes, buildings, and schools, investments to research and develop clean energy technologies, and investments in communities that have historically been negatively impacted by pollution. 

A more detailed breakdown of the survey’s findings and charts can be found here.