Pollster Frank Luntz Releases New Polling Results: Bipartisan Public Support for National Climate Legislation

January 21, 2010


CONTACT: Tony Kreindler

WASHINGTON, DC (January 21, 2010) –Pollster Frank Luntz today announced new research that shows the American people are eager for Congress to act on climate legislation that would promote energy independence and a healthier environment. The newly released public opinion data indicates a widely shared bi-partisan consensus on the need to reshape the energy-environmental debate and illustrates a clear path forward for Senators as the 2010 climate change debate begins on Capitol Hill.

Luntz said today that passing legislation that boosts national security and energy independence, promotes innovation and new technology, creates jobs, and reduces pollution as part of a declining cap on carbon emissions is smart politics for Republicans and Democrats alike. Joined by Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp and David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, Luntz released polling results that he says “provides a road map for generating consensus and support for cleaner, safer, healthier, policies and proposals regarding climate legislation.”

“Americans want their leaders to act on climate change – but not necessarily for the reasons you think,” Luntz said. “A clear majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. This is true of McCain voters and Obama voters alike. And even those that don’t still believe it is essential for America to pursue policies that promote energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment. In reference to recent political events, Luntz added: “People are much more interested in seeing solutions than watching yet another partisan political argument.”

Luntz’s firm, The Word Doctors, conducted a national poll of 1007 registered voters (+ 3% margin of error). The firm also conducted a series of “Instant Response” qualitative dial sessions around the country. Luntz’s research unveiled areas of clear agreement on climate legislation between Obama and McCain voters, and among the general public:

Republicans and Democrats agree that national security is the top reason to enact comprehensive climate policy. Luntz noted that national security “crosses demographic lines, is embraced by opinion elites and doesn’t require a belief in climate change.”

  • Pitted against economic and environmental arguments, national security was consistently the highest priority.
  • McCain voters in Luntz’s qualitative research strongly believe “the costs of our addiction to oil are too high in terms of lives, money, foreign policy and standing in the world.”

Reducing pollution and holding companies that pollute “accountable” enjoys broad bipartisan support.

  • Americans see climate legislation as more than just corporate social responsibility. When given a list of business and economic reasons to support the legislation, the top choice mirrored the public’s highest priority for Washington and Wall Street: accountability. The exact language of the statement:  “Cap and trade will limit the amount of pollution companies can emit, giving companies incentives to reduce emissions—and holding those who don’t accountable…”

This was chosen as the top reason for supporting the policy among both Obama and McCain partisans – a rare example of bi-partisan public consensus.

“This is a crucial moment in the effort to pass national climate legislation that limits carbon emissions,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “Frank’s research proves that that no matter who Americans voted for in 2008, in 2010 they want to see Congress act on climate legislation. It’s a national security priority, it’s a crucial means to reduce pollution, and it’s essential to creating permanent American jobs.”

David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, Inc., a major energy company, noted, “Comprehensive climate and energy legislation has the potential to address effectively our nation’s critical dependence on foreign sources of energy and solve the climate change problem. Sensible legislation, drafted by Republicans and Democrats alike can create private sector jobs driving the new energy economy. This research conducted by the highly respected Frank Luntz makes it clear as day that the door is open and the time to act is now.”

Luntz concluded, “Americans want clean, safe, healthy, secure energy. That’s why Republicans and Democrats alike strongly support action to address climate change. Sure, Republicans are more concerned about the national security component and Democrats the health component, but support for action right now spans all partisan and ideological lines.”

Download Luntz’s full report: The Language of the Clean Energy Economy [PDF]