Polls: On Energy, Swing Voters Swing Clean

If Mitt Romney beats Barack Obama, it won’t be because voters want to turn back on policies that promote clean energy.

A poll released Tuesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found that nearly four out of five (78 percent) voters support tax credits and financial incentives to encourage the development and use of solar energy. And two-thirds of swing voters (67 percent) — those who hadn’t given a strong partisan preference — chose solar above all other energy sources to receive government largesse.

copper mountain solar

image via the White House

Polling last week in eight swing states for the National Resources Defense Council, focused on clean air, had found voters similarly inclined. There, among all likely voters, “a candidate who supports EPA standards for reducing dangerous carbon pollution” won out over one who “says that these limits would be bad for business and EPA should not limit carbon pollution” by a 57-32 margin. Incentives for wind power also won solid backing in the NRDC polling.

“What we see here is that key-state voters who are still making up their minds decisively favor candidates who support standards to reduce carbon pollution and mercury pollution,” Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, which did the NRDC poll, said in a statement. “(Mitt) Romney’s views are at odds with the very centrist voters he needs. And, clearly the shared views of Obama and democratic Senate candidates in Congress can only help them with these undecided voters.”

Romney wind power PTC

image via Romney for President

Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the solar-focused poll, said in a statement: “These results clearly show that American voters across the political spectrum have a strong favorable view of solar energy and the solar industry, and they believe that government has an important role to play in allowing this industry to grow and succeed.”

One notable specific result of the NRDC survey, given the impending expiration of the production tax credit for wind, was that “(b)y a margin of 52 percent to 29 percent, undecided voters support a presidential candidate who backs increased incentives for wind power,” PPP said. “Among likely voters, the margin is 56 percent to 35 percent in support of such a presidential candidate.”

President Obama supports an extension of the PTC, while the Republican Romney is opposed.

In the SEIA poll, wind found even greater support, with 57 of voters overall and 60 percent of swing voters backing government subsidies.

The Hart Research poll of 1,206 U.S. voters, including an oversample of swing voters (resulting in 762 swing voter interviews) has a margin of error of ± 2.8%. The swing voter sample included only those respondents who did not indicate a strong or consistent partisan voting history. The poll was conducted online September 4 to 9 and was commissioned by SEIA.

The NRDC survey was conducted by the poll firm PPP. The eight PPP battleground state surveys were conducted in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin between Sept.14-20, 2012, among a combined 22,412 likely voters (with a margin of error of +/-0.7 percent), including an oversample of 2,158 undecided voters (with a margin of error of +/-2.1 percent).

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • RegsRock

    This poll released by the Solar Energy Industries
    Association reflects what has long been true: that most Americans are in favor
    of clean, sustainable energy and a healthier environment.

    Certain forces in our political culture have turned the idea
    of regulation into a dirty word among American voters, conjuring up images of a
    hyper-bureaucratic Nanny government that wants to tell you how to live your
    life.

    But when specific regulations are discussed, clear majorities
    favor government safeguards for the environment, workplace safety, our food
    supply, and highway safety, according to a report done by the Pew Research
    Center. (To see this report, visit our website http://www.sensiblesafeguards.org/media-coverage)

    Americans want a system of regulations that curb the abuses
    of industry and protect us from things that are too big for us to protect ourselves
    from. Those responsible for representing the people and making laws need to
    take notice.