The 2012 Election Could Pivot On Energy

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Greentech Media. Author credit goes to Herman Trabish.

Recently, Greentech Media asked how the results of the 2012 election will impact U.S. greentech, but a new poll suggests that question put the horse before the cart. The first question is how greentech will impact the 2012 election.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) asked 22,412 likely voters in eight states considered to have thepotential to swing either Republican or Democrat in November — Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — how they felt about “clean air and clean energy policies” and how candidates’ positions on those issues might affect their vote.

obama solar power

image via the White House

Using a sample large enough to keep the margin of error below 1 percent, according to PPP Director Tom Jensen, the poll found that, by a margin of 54 percent to 27 percent, undecided voters in those eight crucial states favored President Obama (“a candidate who supports EPA standards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution”) over Governor Romney (“a candidate who says these limits would be bad for business and EPA should not limit carbon pollution”).

This suggests, Jensen said, that while Mr. Romney needs to make up a 6 percent deficit among likely voters in those eight states (50 percent to 44 percent), “his stances on environment and energy issues could hurt his ability to do that.”

The real question is whether the voters isolated in these new polls will vote on these issues. Polls have long shown greentech topics to be what politicians call “80 percent issues.” They get such overwhelming approval from the public it is hard to understand why there isso much controversy.

The question of whether voters think about greentech issues was highlighted in the PPP poll by the fact that the undecided voters polled, when pressed for a choice, went for Romney 32 percent to 20 percent, apparently despite their opinions on energy and the environment. And 48 percent remained unable to choose even when pressed, despite the fact that, as Jensen noted, “Romney’s views are at odds with the very centrist voters he needs.”

Those views, which have been documented as antithetical to Romney’s positions by GTM, extend to federal vehicle fuel efficiency standards, EPA mercury pollution controls, andincentives for wind and solar energy.

“Undecided voters have a wide variety of things on their minds,” Jensen acknowledged. “What these poll numbers show is that Governor Romney is out of the mainstream and too conservative, and his positions on these issues are not going to help his cause.”

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