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.
By Danielle Deiseroth, Lead Climate Strategist, Data for Progress
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.