American voters are narrowly supportive of a proposal to end fossil fuel use and create clean energy jobs by raising taxes, according to a poll sponsored by supporters of the proposal.
Registered voters were, by 5 percentage points, more likely to support than oppose a Green New Deal plan “paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions,” an online YouGov Blue survey of 1,282 voters taken Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 found. Among independents, the outcome was identical. Democratic voters were 48 percentage points more likely to support than oppose the plan, while Republicans were 50 points more likely to oppose than support it.
The full question read: “Would you support or oppose a Green New Deal to end fossil fuel use in the United States and have the government create clean energy jobs? The plan would be paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions.”
Overall, 43 percent of voters supported the measure and 38 percent opposed, with 10 percent neither supporting nor opposing and 9 percent responding that they were “unsure of their opinion.”
The findings ― commissioned by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress and shared with HuffPost ― show the Green New Deal’s popularity with Democrats and the extent to which its main advocates have electrified long-static debates on both climate and tax policy in the United States.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) became the face of the Green New Deal movement late last year when she joined left-wing activists in a sit-in protest in then-incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand Democrats support transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity and giving millions of Americans federally backed jobs in the clean energy sector.
By December, 81 percent of registered voters said they supported a plan to generate 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean sources within the next 10 years, upgrade the U.S. power grid, invest in energy-efficiency and renewable technology, and provide training for jobs in the new, green economy, according to a poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University. That included 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans, with an eyebrow-raising 57 percent of conservative Republicans in agreement.
Yet the survey prompt made no mention of the costs, and the pollsters warned that the overwhelming support for the Green New Deal was likely to wane as the proposal became more politicized.
In January, Ocasio-Cortez suggested raising top marginal tax rates to 70 percent to help fund the program. The remark, made in a “60 Minutes” interview, ignited a fresh debate over how much the richest Americans should give back, and it set the stage for at least two 2020 presidential candidates to announce new proposals to tax the wealthy. She’s now planning to introduce Green New Deal legislation with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sometime in the coming weeks.
At this point, nearly every major Democrat joining the crowded 2020 primary field has voiced support for a Green New Deal in some form. The latest poll shows the policy “will clearly be a major fixture of this cycle’s policy debate,” said John Ray, a senior political analyst at YouGov.
“We tailored our Green New Deal item to present respondents with a realistic sense of both its anticipated costs and benefits, and found net support for the policy cornerstones of the Green New Deal, the jobs program and the pivot away from fossil fuels,” Ray said by email.
The poll identified a generational divide on the Green New Deal. Millennials ― defined by the Pew Research Center as people ages 18 to 37 ― were more likely to support than oppose the policy, by 24 percentage points. Yet the Silent Generation ― people older than 72 ― were 25 points more likely to oppose than support the Green New Deal. Accordingly, self-reported retirees were the only employment status that primarily opposed the policy.
The divide is not unexpected. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change determined the world has roughly a decade to halve global emissions or face cataclysmic warming of at least 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the damage from more extreme weather and sea level rise could hit $54 trillion. That has helped foster a sense of what some call intergenerational “climate debt” ― costs of planetary damage passed on to the young and as-yet unborn.
“Even when the Green New Deal faces attacks from the right, Americans will stay on the Green New Deal train,” Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress, said by email. “Choo choo, motherfuckers.”
Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed to this report.
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