NEW ANALYSIS: GOP’s Green New Deal Attacks Fall Flat

Washington, D.C. — With less than a month to go in the election, this past week showed that Republicans up and down the ballot are making their false claims about the Green New Deal and attacks on climate action a centerpiece of their closing argument. A review of publicly available polling data shows that these attacks, as well as attacks on Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to build an equitable, clean energy future, are falling flat with voters. 

“Deciding to close the election with false attacks on the Green New Deal and other pro-climate action policies is a big mistake for Republicans,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “In reality, voters overwhelmingly support bold government action on climate and are more likely to back candidates who support it. In Trump’s must-win state of Pennsylvania, for example, data shows a debate over fracking and climate change significantly boosted Biden’s standing with voters. Voters see through Republicans’ bizarre lies about banning cars, airplanes, and hamburgers, and they are punishing Trump and Republicans for their COVID and climate denial.” 

A new comprehensive analysis of the Green New Deal and pro-climate policies by Data for Progress found a plurality of voters have a favorable impression of the Green New Deal when asked directly. A plurality of voters also think the Green New Deal is a good idea. Support among Democrats for the policy is more intense than opposition among Republicans; independents are split almost evenly. As Data for Progress concluded, “the policy is not as big of a boogeyman as pundits make it out to be.”

Republicans Go On the Attack on the Green New Deal; Democrats Tout Climate, Clean Energy and Conservation

In recent interviews, at events on the campaign trail, and during the presidential and vice-presidential debates, both Trump and Pence have spent considerable time leveling false and misleading attacks on the Green New Deal and other pro-climate policies. For instance, in the 90-minute vice-presidential debate, Pence mentioned the “Green New Deal” 15 times. The attacks are not limited to the top of the ticket. In recent weeks across the Senate battlefield, Republican candidates and outside groups have run anti-Green New Deal ads in Alaska, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Iowa, North Carolina, Maine, and Georgia.

Despite these false attacks, the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average shows Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris are currently leading in all of the following states: Pennsylvania (+7.1), Ohio (+0.6), Florida (+3.7), Wisconsin (+5.5), North Carolina (+1.4), Michigan (+6.7), Minnesota (+9.4), Iowa (+1.2), Arizona (+2.7), Nevada (+6.0), New Hampshire (+9.0), and Colorado (+10.0). 

In addition, the 538 forecast currently predicts a victory for Biden and Harris in Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Maine, and Nebraska’s 2nd District.

Pro-climate candidates and outside groups understand climate, clean energy, and conservation are winning issues, and they are making it a key part of their advertising and voter contact strategies in the final month across the Senate battleground.

In the fight for the Senate, 538 predicts a 68% chance of voters returning a pro-climate Democratic majority. In individual races, pro-climate Democrats remain favored to win or be competitive across the battleground. As the New York Times reported, Republicans are on defense and spending tens of millions of dollars in deep-red states such as South Carolina and Kansas.

Climate and Fracking Debate Boosts Biden in Pennsylvania, While Green New Deal Attacks Fall Short 

Late August polls conducted by CBS News and Climate Power 2020 and League of Conservation Voters both show the conventional wisdom around fracking is no longer true. The Climate Power 2020 poll found that not only are Pennsylvania voters supportive of climate action and additional regulations on fracking, engaging in a debate around fracking and climate clearly helped Joe Biden, strengthening his favorability rating and increasing his lead over President Donald Trump in the state.

In that survey, Biden led Trump by a margin of 8 percentage points (50%/42%). Notably, that advantage increased to a 15-point lead when the debate was centered around fracking, clean energy, and climate change — dispelling the conventional belief that a focus on fracking will pull down support for Democrats and Biden in the state.

The messages presented to voters in the survey closely mirror the frequent attacks leveled against Biden’s plan for clean energy investments, including negative messaging on the Green New Deal and socialism, and false claims that Biden’s plan will cost Pennsylvania 600,000 jobs. You can see the exact language on fracking and the Green New Deal tested in this memo.

Another key finding from the poll was that Keystone State voters, including those in Southwestern Pennsylvania, strongly support bold action on climate change, investments in clean energy infrastructure, and stronger regulations on the fracking industry. By a 61-30 margin, voters in the Pittsburgh DMA support placing stronger regulations on oil and gas fracking, such as increasing the minimum distance between fracking sites and homes and requiring the disclosure of all chemicals used in fracking. 

Pennsylvania Voters also overwhelmingly favor two policies that form the foundation of Biden’s climate plan:

  • 74% support transitioning the country to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and 73% support a clean energy economy by 2050.
  • 71% favor investing $2 trillion over the next four years to build clean energy infrastructure. 

Battleground Voters Strongly Support Bold Action on Climate 

Biden has pledged to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035. Late September surveys conducted by Data for Progress found strong support for this policy in key presidential and Senate battlegrounds:

  • In Arizona, 58% of likely voters, including 54% of independents, support this goal. 
  • In Iowa, 55% of likely voters, including 53% of independents, support this goal.
  • In Maine, 65% of likely voters, including 61% of independents, support this goal.
  • In South Carolina, 52% of likely voters, including 57% of independents, support this goal.

Data for Progress surveys conducted in August in Arizona, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina also found strong support for bold action on climate.

By large margins, voters were more likely to support a candidate backing 100% clean electricity by 2035:

  • Arizona: 54-26
  • Iowa: 53-26
  • Maine: 57-23
  • North Carolina: 50-29

Similarly, voters in these battleground states were also more likely to support a candidate backing $2 trillion in clean energy infrastructure:

  • Arizona: 57-26
  • Iowa: 57-24
  • Maine: 55-26
  • North Carolina: 53-30

When Biden was named and the Republican counterattack was presented, voters still supported the Biden clean energy investment plan by substantial margins: