MEMO: Battleground Polling Shows Opportunity with Climate Voters to Sell Bidenomics
To: Interested Parties
From: Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power
Date: July 18, 2023
Re: MEMO: Battleground Polling Shows Opportunity with Climate Voters to Sell Bidenomics
Climate Power, in collaboration with HIT Strategies, conducted six state surveys in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin among 6,733 registered voters.* The research project in battleground states puts a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities ahead for Democrats and the Biden administration around climate, clean energy, and Bidenomics.
The good news: when voters are informed about the Biden Clean Energy Plan they approve of it and are more likely to support President Joe Biden’s re-election.
The bad news is that as of today, many voters haven’t heard about it.
In the modern political and media climate, it is not enough to have monumental accomplishments, it is also necessary to actively communicate about them to voters. This is expensive and time consuming and cannot be left to the final months of a campaign.
The path to success in 2024 requires Democrats and climate advocates to communicate about the accomplishments of the last few years with voters who care about addressing climate change. If done well, these messages can significantly shift the electorate in Democrats’ favor. If neglected, these lost votes could make the difference in the inevitably close battleground states.
The Need for Paid Communication
Democrats and climate advocates cannot rely on the media to provide voters with sufficient information about the progress being made on clean energy and combating climate change.
There is a significant lack of awareness about Biden’s Clean Energy Plan and it is driving concern among battleground state voters that President Biden hasn’t done enough to address climate change. As of today, 52% of voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin believe that President Biden has done “too little” to address climate change. This includes 51% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and even 44% of Republicans. While a challenge today, these voters represent a tremendous opportunity to grow support for the president. Specifically, 44% of registered voters in key battleground states who say President Biden is doing “too little” to address climate change either do not yet have an opinion about, or have never heard of, the Clean Energy Plan. That is the opportunity.
Additionally, many of the voters who believe Biden is not doing enough on climate change are among those historically more likely to support Democrats. Among those who believe Biden should do more on climate are 73% of GenZ voters and 63% of millennial voters, 60% of Latino voters and 62% of AAPI voters. Not surprisingly, these are the groups that show the most movement toward supporting the Biden Clean Energy Plan after being exposed to proof points and positive messaging about it.
Total approval of the Clean Energy Plan increases +21 percentage points after voters’ exposure to Clean Energy Plan’s proof points and positive messaging, moving from a mediocre 36/30 approval to a robust 57/31 in a highly partisan climate. The movement among voters who believe President Biden should do more is even stronger, improving from 35% approval to 62% approval (+27 percentage points).
The significant increase in favorability of the Clean Energy Plan is consistent across battleground states.
Communicating clean energy policies and progress increases registered voters’ confidence in the Biden administration. This is especially true among Democrats and Black voters – 68% of Black voters report to be more confident in the administration after learning more about the policies and progress made towards the Clean Energy Plan.
When asked about concerns related to climate change, voters are most focused on their own personal costs. These pocketbook issues should be at the heart of climate-related messaging. The top two issues listed by voters were gas prices and the cost of electric and other utility bills. This finding aligns with the most effective messages about the impacts of the Clean Energy Plan.
Democrats’ messaging is aided by a general dislike for the oil and gas industry. Among the key demographic of battleground state voters who supported Biden in 2020 but now have unfavorable opinions of him, 65% say they view the Oil and Gas industry unfavorably. This presents a key opportunity.
The Clean Energy Plan’s policies to expand and speed up the transition to clean energy sources and ensure that clean energy technologies will be developed and manufactured in the United States are also popular, particularly with persuadable, Black and AAPI voters.
Much has been made of the Biden Administration’s decision to approve the Willow Project in Alaska. While many groups, including Climate Power, have condemned the decision as incompatible with President Biden’s climate goals, most (70%) voters in key battleground states have little awareness of it. This is in line with Pew Research’s recent findings that 68% of Americans say they’ve heard nothing at all about the issue.
The exception to this general lack of awareness is Gen Z voters, 48% of whom are aware and disapprove of the decision. This finding is important as it shows that while Willow is not an issue that is likely to be a large-scale issue with voters in general, it is one that will need to be addressed with Gen Z voters to avoid further dissatisfaction.
President Biden and congressional Democrats’ Clean Energy Plan is a massive accomplishment and is popular with voters, but only if they know about it. Communicating this accomplishment must be a core component of messaging for climate action supporters over the next year and a half leading up to the 2024 election. The clean energy economy is a critical part of Bidenomics, and the administration is in the midst of a nationwide tour highlighting new projects that help tell this story. This effort must be sustained and supported by robust paid communications from campaigns and outside entities in order for more voters to learn about the plan.
The lack of knowledge of President Biden’s climate accomplishments among voters already inclined to support him is an obstacle, but if Democrats can successfully communicate about how the Biden Clean Energy Plan will help cut costs for families on gas and utility bills while creating good-paying jobs and reducing harmful emissions, they will dramatically increase their chances of electoral success.
The survey was conducted from April 27 to May 9, 2023. N= 6,733 AZ, GA, MI, NV, PA, and WI Registered Voters. The overall margin of error is ±1.6%. The margin of error within each state sample is higher. All survey interviews were collected through a mixed methodology of cell/landline live calls and TTW online completes.
*The state surveys included Arizona of 1,102 registered voters, Georgia of 1,164 registered voters, Michigan of 1,051 registered voters, Nevada of 1,252 registered voters, Pennsylvania of 1,113 registered voters, and Wisconsin of 1,051 registered voters.