Polling data suggests voters who backed former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election hold more nuanced opinions on climate change than the binary climate denial versus climate acceptance debate as framed by progressive climate activists.
A YouGov/Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) poll conducted in January for the American Enterprise Institute found that 66% of Trump voters believe climate change is real. The remaining 34% of Trump voters said climate change is not real and the government “should do nothing” to combat it.
Among those polled, 10% of respondents overall said the government “must do something now” to combat climate change. An additional 56% of respondents overall said “science and technology developed by the private sector and government” could be used to mitigate the effects of climate change.
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Younger Trump voters were more likely to say the government “must do something now” to combat climate change. Among those polled, 19% of respondents aged 18-29 agreed with that statement compared to just 6% of respondents aged 65 or older, according to YouGov/EPPC polling.
Respondents who primarily identified as GOP voters were considerably less likely than those who primarily identified as Trump voters to say the government “should do nothing” to combat climate change. Among those polled, 17% of self-identified GOP voters agreed with that statement compared to 43% of self-identified Trump voters, according to YouGov/EPPC polling.
The survey response from Trump voters appears to refute a common perception among progressive climate activists that the vast majority of conservative voters deny climate change.
Although a notable cross-section of Trump voters said climate change is not real, polling data suggests that the former president’s supporters would be more open to a measured response using a combination of market-based and government solutions.
President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, on the other hand, calls for $2 trillion in government spending over four years. The president’s goal of an emissions-free energy sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050 would almost certainly require an unprecedented level of government intervention.
Republican lawmakers and conservative climate experts alike have expressed concerns that Biden’s climate agenda could cost fossil fuel jobs and increase energy prices for consumers and households.
Biden’s executive orders effectively terminating the Keystone XL pipeline and temporarily suspending new fossil fuel permits on federal lands have also drawn criticism from lawmakers and climate experts. (RELATED: Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Slams Biden For ‘Devastating’ Executive Order Banning Oil And Gas Leases)
Top administration officials like climate envoy John Kerry, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm have admitted that Biden’s climate agenda could displace workers in the fossil fuel industry.
The former president’s supporters are all but guaranteed to oppose the Biden administration’s climate actions. But the common perception that a vast majority of conservative voters are against any action at all is unfounded given the YouGov/EPPC responses and similar survey data.
Pollsters noted that market-oriented solutions which utilize technological advances and new knowledge of environmental science could better persuade Trump voters to back climate action than the Biden administration’s far-reaching regulatory approach. (RELATED: John Kerry Says We Have 9 Years Left Until Climate Catastrophe)
The YouGov/EPPC poll surveyed 1,000 self-identified Trump voters via interview between Jan. 11-14. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.