Conservative New Hampshire and South Carolina voters respond positively to climate policies

NRDC and the League of Conservation Voters commissioned American Viewpoint to interview 400 Republican voters in each state about their energy and climate policy preferences. Their responses showed that, contrary to popular belief, many conservative voters support climate policy.


With the announcement of the Clean Power Plan and the upcoming US election season, questions of climate policy loom. Republican candidates have sworn off talking about climate change, but what do the primary voters actually think? In swing state New Hampshire (NH) and Republican stronghold South Carolina (SC) more people support clean energy and reducing carbon pollution than oppose them.


Conservatives support clean energy policies. 72% of NH Republican primary voters and 68% of SC voters want candidates to have a clean energy plan. Nearly half of respondents said that it was very important to them.

Voters support carbon pollution limits and even the Clean Power Plan. In both states, about 60% of Republican primary voters favor limits on carbon pollution. While only 50% support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, this still represents a majority over the 40% that oppose it. However, when respondents listened to arguments from both sides on the Clean Power Plan, support fell. NH maintained a slim majority in favor but in SC support shifted against the plan.

While renewables garner widespread support in both states, fewer people care about reducing fossil fuel use. There is large support for increasing renewable in both states, 74% in NH and 71% in SC. A larger proportion of voters support decreasing coal use, but it is less clear cut than with support for clean energy. When it comes to oil, the margin gets even smaller in NH. In SC, primary voters actually favor increasing oil consumption.

Recognition of climate change is there for some voters. The majority of primary voters believe in climate change in both states, though it is a near thing in SC, 48% to. 44%. The majority of people also strongly believe that climate change will affect farming, and somewhat less strongly believe that it will affect weather, people’s health and the economy. They are not convinced that climate change presents a national security threat.

Primary voters wish to maintain environmental regulations and express support for some new climate-related policies. Most voters do not want to weaken environmental laws and would prefer tougher enforcement. Amongst primary voters, getting rid of tax loopholes for oil companies, upgrading power lines, improving energy efficiency in buildings, and expanding access to job training for clean energy jobs all get majority approval.

photo (cc) Flickr Corker888

Date: 2015
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Other
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Other

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