July 7, 2022
Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n = 1,018; including 908 registered voters whose data are included in this report), these findings describe how Democratic, Independent, and Republican registered voters view climate and energy policies.
This report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, Interview dates: April 13 – May 2, 2022. Average margin of error +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Drawing on a representative sample of the U.S. adult population (n = 1,018; including the 908 registered voters whose data are included in this report), these findings describe how registered voters view a variety of domestic climate and energy policies. The survey was fielded from April 13 – May 2, 2022.
It is important to note that this survey was conducted before recent precedent-changing Supreme Court rulings (including those limiting the EPA’s authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards for existing power plants, overturning the right to abortion, and overturning a New York state law that regulated concealed carry of firearms), before multiple deadly mass shootings around the U.S., before the nationally televised Congressional hearings on the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and during a period of high inflation. Americans’ voting issue priorities may have changed in response to these events.
This executive summary presents the results for all registered voters, while the main text of the report also breaks the results down by political party and ideology.
Global Warming as a Voting Issue
- About four in ten registered voters (39%) say a candidate’s position on global warming will be “very important” when they decide who they will vote for in the 2022 congressional elections.
- Of 29 issues we asked about, registered voters indicated that global warming is the 24th most highly ranked voting issue (based on the percentage saying it is “very important”).
- When then asked to choose their most important voting issue, four percent of registered voters chose global warming, making it the #10 highest ranked most important issue.
- A majority of registered voters (58%) would prefer to vote for a candidate who supports action on global warming, while only 17% would prefer to vote for a candidate who opposes action.
Global Warming and Clean Energy as Government Priorities
- 50% of registered voters say global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
- 61% of registered voters say developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
Support for Policies to Reduce the Pollution that Causes Global Warming
Majorities of registered voters support a range of policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. These include:
- 87% support providing tax incentives or rebates to homeowners, landlords, and businesses to make existing buildings more energy efficient.
- 79% support funding more research into renewable energy sources.
- 77% support providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
- 77% support providing federal funding to make residential buildings in low-income communities more energy efficient.
- 77% support providing tax incentives or rebates to homeowners, landlords, and businesses to purchase appliances that can be powered without burning fossil fuels.
- 74% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
- 69% support transitioning the U.S. economy (including electric utilities, transportation, buildings, and industry) from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050.
- 69% support increasing federal funding to low-income communities and communities of color who are disproportionately harmed by air and water pollution.
- 66% support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on the carbon pollution they produce, and using that revenue to reduce other taxes (such as the federal income tax) by an equal amount (i.e., a revenue-neutral carbon tax).
- 63% support requiring electric utilities to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035.
- 81% support generating renewable energy on public land in the U.S.
- 58% support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast.
- 55% support drilling for and mining fossil fuels on public land in the U.S.
Conservation and Restoration Policies
- 86% support providing funding to help farmers improve practices to protect and restore the soil so it absorbs and stores more carbon.
- 86% support re-establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps.
- 80% support creating a jobs program to hire unemployed oil and gas workers to close down abandoned gas wells.
- 80% support creating a jobs program to hire unemployed coal workers to close down old coal mines.
Declaring Climate Change a National Emergency
- 58% support a U.S. president declaring global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
Banning TV Ads by Fossil Fuel Companies
- 42% support a ban on TV ads by fossil fuel companies, similar to the ban on advertising cigarettes on TV that was established in 1971.
Energy Production as an Economic Issue
- 52% say that policies to promote clean energy will improve economic growth and create jobs, while 30% say these policies will reduce growth and cost jobs.
- 57% say that increasing production of clean energy in the U.S. will produce more new jobs than will increasing fossil fuel production.
Who Should Act?
- 68% say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming.
- About half or more also say the following should do more to address global warming: citizens (61%), the Republican Party (58%), the U.S. Congress (57%), their local government officials (55%), their governor (53%), the Democratic Party (53%), President Biden (51%), they themselves (49%), and the media (49%).
State and Local Government Action on Global Warming
- 48% say their local government should prioritize both climate change mitigation and adaptation about equally, with an additional 23% saying the main priority should be mitigation, and 12% saying it should be adaptation.
- Majorities support climate-friendly policies for their local community, including increasing the availability of public transportation in their county (83%), providing funding to help homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to their homes (82%), and constructing bike paths and installing bike lanes on city streets (77%).
- Half or more say their state and local governments should give a “high priority” to protecting public water supplies (60%), people’s health (54%), and agriculture (51%).
Political Actions to Limit Global Warming
- 53% say they would sign a petition about global warming, although only 19% say they have done so in the past year.
- Fewer say they would take other actions, including 31% who would donate money to an organization working on global warming (compared with 13% who say they have actually done so in the past year), 31% who would volunteer their time to an organization working on global warming (compared with 8% who say they have done so in the past year), and 29% who would contact government officials about global warming (compared with 9% who say they have done so in the past year).
- 28% say they would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse, and 17% say they would personally engage in it.
- 1% say they are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming, although 9% say they would “definitely” join such a campaign and 18% say they would “probably” join one.
Trust, Blame, and Grievance
- About seven in ten registered voters trust NASA (74%), family & friends (74%), climate scientists (71%), and their primary care doctor (69%) as sources of information about global warming.
- Registered voters most blame global warming on developing countries (68%), fossil fuel companies (66%), industrialized countries (65%), fossil fuel CEOs (63%), and corporate lobbyists (62%).
- Few registered voters think the U.S. government is responding well to the issue of global warming (14%), that people like them have a fair say in how the government responds to the issue (16%), or that people like them are respected in the national conversation about global warming (11%).
- 43% say people like them will be unfairly harmed if the U.S. government does not take action to reduce global warming, while 26% say they will be unfairly harmed if the U.S. government does take action.
- This report includes only registered voters.
- References to Republicans and Democrats throughout include respondents who initially identify as either a Republican or Democrat, as well as those who do not initially identify as a Republican or Democrat but who say they “are closer to” one of those parties (i.e., “leaners”) in a follow-up question. The category “Independents” does not include any of these “leaners.”
- For tabulation purposes, percentage points are rounded to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given chart may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. Summed response categories (e.g., “strongly support” + “somewhat support”) are rounded after sums are calculated. For example, in some cases, the sum of 25% + 25% might be reported as 51% (e.g., 25.3% + 25.3% = 50.6%, which, after rounding, is 51%).
- Weighted percentages among registered voters of each of the groups discussed in this report:
- Democrats (total) including leaners: 43%
- Liberal Democrats: 24%
- Moderate/Conservative Democrats: 19%
- (Moderate Democrats: 16%; Conservative Democrats: 3%)
- Independents excluding leaners: 12%
- Republicans (total) including leaners: 40%
- Liberal/Moderate Republicans: 12%
- (Liberal Republicans: 1%; Moderate Republicans: 11%)
- Conservative Republicans: 27%
- Liberal/Moderate Republicans: 12%
- No party/Not interested in politics/No response: 5% (included in the results reported for “All Registered Voters” only)
- Democrats (total) including leaners: 43%
- The full text of all survey items can be found in the data tables.
Table of Contents
Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Neyens, L., Myers, T., Goldberg, M., Campbell, E., Lacroix, K., & Marlon, J. (2022). Politics & Global Warming, April 2022. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.