A majority of supporters of John McCain and Barack Obama largely agree on how to deal with both the country’s energy needs and the problem of climate change, a new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll shows.
WorldPublicOpinion.org, an international research project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, surveyed 1,174 Americans from Aug. 9 to Aug. 20, 2008, as part of a larger international poll.
According to the group’s findings, three-quarters (75%) of Obama supporters and three-fifths of McCain supporters (60%) agree that the government should require utilities to use more alternative energy sources even if this increases costs in the short run.
Both Obama and McCain supporters reject the argument that making a major shift to alternative energy sources “would cost so much money that it would hurt the economy.” Instead, the group found that large majorities in both the Obama (83%) and McCain (73%) camps support the argument that “with the rising cost of energy, it would save money in the long run.”
Supporters in both camps strongly favor a greater emphasis on increasing energy efficiency. Asked if the government should require businesses to use energy more efficiently, even if it might make some products more expensive, 71% of Obama supporters support this action, as do 55% of McCain supporters. Overall, 61% of Americans would favor the government requiring businesses to do this.
Only small minorities in both camps favor greater emphasis on “building coal or oil-fired power plants,” although more McCain supporters favor this approach (34%) than those for Obama (19%). More Obama supporters favor reducing emphasis on oil and coal (57%) than do McCain supporters (41%). Twenty-two percent of McCain supporters and 18% of Obama supporters say there should be the same emphasis as now.
The one area on which Obama and McCain supporters differ considerably is nuclear energy. Fifty-four percent of McCain supporters favor increased emphasis on nuclear energy, compared to only one-third of Obama supporters (33%).
Concern about climate change appears to be a key factor driving support for alternative energy sources and greater efficiency. Those who favor the U.S. committing to limits on greenhouse gas emissions are far more likely to favor requiring companies to adopt such changes, the group found.
Only small minorities of the public agree with the government’s current position that the U.S. should not commit to limit emissions per the Kyoto Protocol, unless less-developed countries do so (McCain supporters 10%, Obama supporters 4%).
A slight majority of McCain supporters (51%) favor pressure on less-developed countries to reduce their emissions, rather than simply accepting their position (34%).
Obama supporters are more divided: 46% say that the U.S. should accept the position of less-developed countries, while 44% favor applying pressure.
Source: WorldPublicOpinion.org