Swing-state voters back Clean Power Plan — poll

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2015

A majority of voters in eight political swing states disagree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) advice to state officials to buck the newly finalized Clean Power Plan, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released today.

The poll, commissioned by liberal group Americans United for Change, surveyed 4,517 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen said the survey found widespread support for the Obama administration’s effort to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants, as well as concern for climate change generally.

“We found across these eight swing states … that the Clean Power Plan is overwhelming popular,” Jensen said in a teleconference.

Participants in the survey were read arguments for and against the new regulation — such as criticisms that it could cause job losses — and then were asked whether they would support or oppose the plan. The poll found 58 percent in favor of the regulation, while 40 percent opposed it.

“What I think is really noteworthy is that you find 44 percent of Republicans in support of it, compared to only 53 percent who are opposed,” Jensen added. “It’s been pretty hard over the last 6 ½ years now to find anything that the president’s pushing forward that 44 percent of Republicans support.”

Support for the regulation was stronger among Democrats, 81 percent of whom backed the new rule along with 58 percent of self-identified independents. The poll had a 1.5-point margin of error.

Participants were also asked whether they agreed with McConnell’s call for state governments to buck the Clean Power Plan by refusing to develop emissions reduction plans. Among those polled, 59 percent said states should develop their own plans, while 31 percent agreed with McConnell.

But Frank Maisano, an energy specialist and senior principal with the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, dismissed the survey’s findings, arguing that voters cannot be polled on a regulation that was formally released on Monday. The poll was conducted July 31 to Aug. 3.

“I always think that polling questions surrounding the environment are very misleading,” said Maisano, who is also the spokesman for the Partnership for a Better Energy Future.

Although voters will endorse action on climate change, Maisano asserted that it remains “a low priority” when compared to issues like the economy and job creation.

“In reality, it’s such a low priority for most voters that it just registers at the bottom of the barrel, and that’s why it’s always misleading,” Maisano said.