Conservatives get a bad rap for hating renewable energy. But new polling out by the conservative group, ClearPath, show what types of energy republican voters really want and with Super Tuesday upon us, we simply had to share. The results may surprise you.
Conservatives strongly support clean energy. The strongest reasons why conservatives support clean energy include less pollution, more innovation and greater independence. “Voters, including Conservative Republicans, think clean energy keeps us healthier, safer, and more prosperous,” says the ClearPath results headline. When asked if “we should accelerate the growth of clean energy so that America can have cleaner, healthier air and less pollution at home,” some 91% of voters supported the statement.
According to the results, most voters identify solar power and wind energy as “clean energy.” Nuclear power has sometimes been misleadingly grouped with renewables as a “clean” energy resource; but the ClearPath polling shows that nuclear reactors “test poorly” and received the highest level of voter opposition. Notably, conservative Republicans strongly support a carbon tax more than nuclear reactors.
The support for solar energy and wind power may also translate into specific policy support.
More than a majority of Conservative GOP voters strongly support rooftop solar net metering and oppose rooftop solar fees. A total of 66% of Conservative GOP voters would support a policy that requires monopoly utilities have clean energy as one of the sources of power they generate. A majority of conservative GOP voters believe power plants should pay a fee for the carbon they emit (and return that fee to ratepayers).
A majority also agree that tax credits should be available for solar energy and wind power for the next five years, and then all energy subsidies should be eliminated. In December 2015, Congress passed long-term tax credits for wind energy and solar power that eventually phase-out, but stopped short of eliminating subsidies for all energy resources (like coal and nuclear).
Regarding elections and campaigns, the best polled messages de-politicize clean energy by emphasizing clean air benefits and energy independence over climate change. Some 75% of Conservative Republicans would vote for a candidate that says “even if we aren’t certain what the climate will be decades from now, we should accelerate clean energy now to minimize the risk of serious climate change effects or the need for harsh regulation.” The least convincing argument to Conservative Republican voters was that China’s carbon emissions would outpace our savings, so we should do nothing.
When asked if voters agree with the following statement, “We should accelerate the growth of clean energy so that we can more quickly make the inevitable transition away from carbon-emitting sources of energy,” just 34% of Conservative Republican voters agreed. But based on all the other results from the ClearPath poll, wind power and solar power inevitability appear to be a foregone conclusion.
You can download the full results at ClearPath.org.