Poll finds growing Republican support for Obama’s climate change plan

Source: E&E • Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A bipartisan national poll conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council found that two-thirds of registered voters approve of the most controversial proposal in President Obama’s recent climate change action plan.

“This is something the American people are strongly behind,” said Peter Altman, director of the NRDC’s climate and clean air campaign. “They’re behind it from both parties.”

Those polled mostly approve of the plan’s most controversial component, setting limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants. This includes support from 49 percent of Republicans. Democratic support was at 84 percent, while independent support was 56 percent.

Republican pollster Robert Carpenter, president of Chesapeake Beach Consulting, said he was surprised about the Republican opinion and noted strong GOP support for other key components on carbon reduction.

In his announcement at Georgetown University last month, Obama said he would direct U.S. EPA to propose new carbon dioxide emission standards within a year. The final rule is expected by June 2015. He also told EPA to repropose a plan that limits greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

“The EPA may not be as popular among Republicans as it is with Democrats, but I think this poll shows that they would support the EPA setting standards on power plants,” said Jay Campbell, a Democratic pollster and senior vice president of Hart Research Associates, which created the poll with Carpenter.

The pollsters found a gender gap among Republicans and independents, a detail Carpenter noted that Republicans should be aware of when reaching out to female voters. Of Republican men, 64 percent disapproved, while 40 percent of Republican women expressed the same opinion

The survey also intentionally labeled the plan as “Obama’s plan,” knowing that might predispose Republicans to disapprove of it. “When you mention it’s the president’s plan, Republicans peel off,” Carpenter said, “but when you do individual components, Republicans are there.”

The poll was conducted earlier this month with 808 registered voters, and it has a margin of error of 3.5 points (Jeannie Kever, Fuel Fix, July 18)