Americans support a massive jobs program to move our nation to 100% renewable energy by 2030. This includes Republicans and even a majority of conservative Republicans. Yet most Americans also have no idea that this policy is endorsed by no less than 38 members of Congress, or that it exists at all.
These are the findings of an online poll of nearly 1,000 registered voters by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, as announced yesterday. One of the most striking aspects of this poll is that a description of the Green New Deal was supported by 64% of voters self-identifying as Republicans.
Additionally, 57% of self-described conservative Republicans expressed some level of support. The numbers were even higher the farther Left you go, with 59% of Democrats expressing strong support for the proposal, and 33% expressing that they “somewhat support” the plan.
Ignorance is bliss
But before sharing a description of the policy, the survey asked voters how much they knew about it. Turns out that 82% of the registered voters had never heard of the idea – despite its being endorsed by 38 members of Congress.
YPCCC notes that the lack of knowledge about who has proposed a Green New Deal may be one key reason why so many conservatives support it. In their own words
…although our description of the Deal accurately provided details about the proposal, it did not mention that the Green New Deal is championed by Democratic members of Congress such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and John Lewis (D-GA). Other research has shown that people evaluate policies more negatively when they are told it is backed by politicians from an opposing political party. Conversely, people evaluate the same policy more positively when told it is backed by politicians from their own party.
Therefore, these findings may indicate that although most Republicans and conservatives are in favor of the Green New Deal’s policies in principle, they are not yet aware that this plan is proposed by the political Left.
Dead in the water at the federal level
If anything, this poll shows the gulf between the U.S. electorate and their representatives in the U.S. Congress. The massive jobs, social justice and clean energy proposal put forth by the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has the stated support of less than 10% of the incoming members of the U.S. Congress, and many of the elements of this proposal are directly in opposition to the policies promoted by Republicans in Congress.
The large majority of Democratic Party leadership has also not shown support for this idea, and the promotion of Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) to ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee could provide an effective block to any ambitious clean energy legislation even if Democrats gain a majority in the U.S. Senate and/or win the presidency in 2020.
However, this idea may live on in state-level policies. On the same day that the results of this poll were made public, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) stated in a speech on 2019 legislative priorities that “New York will launch the Green New Deal.”