One of President Donald Trump’s and Republicans’ favorite hobbyhorses on the campaign trail is the absurd notion that Joe Biden and Democrats would subject Americans to a “radical socialist Green New Deal.” The Grand Old Party wants voters to believe that Democrats are just one choice away from getting rid of hamburgers, vans and planes, sending utility bills through the roof and putting all workers on unemployment insurance. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tossed these known attacks against former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris during the presidential and vice presidential debates. While Data for Progress has observed that voters do indeed support Biden’s plan for a massive investment in clean energy jobs and don’t believe Trump and the Republicans’ Green New Deal cutbacks remain a key issue on fracking.
As a reminder, hydraulic fracking – also known as fracking – injects liquid into the earth to break up shale and release natural gas. A fracking boom set in in Pennsylvania’s resource-rich Marcellus Shale Formation in the mid-2000s. Backed by Obama-era politics – including a lot of cheap debt – the natural gas industry created over 10,000 jobs in Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2012. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This boom came with significant environmental and public health costs. Fracking requires large amounts of water – up to 9.6 million gallons per well, according to the US Geological Survey. Wastewater can contaminate surface water, while toxic chemicals have been found in aquifers that are involved in the extraction process. Fracking also publishes Harmful fumes This can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems, as well as cancer and birth defects. Research has shown that the injection of fracking fluid has caused earthquakes as large as 5.8 on the Richter scale. And while fracking was once called “Bridge fuelTo renewable energies, current studies suggest that methane flaring and fracking gas leakage may be greater than previously thought. In summary, this is not an ideal activity amid a respiratory pandemic and world historical climate crisis.
Unsurprisingly, fracking has become one of the defining themes in the battle for the 20 Pennsylvania electoral college vote that went to Obama in 2012 and was key to Trump’s narrow victory in 2016. They are aware that Trump and the Republicans are dying to brand Biden and Democrats as jobs. Biden and Harris killed hippies and made it clear several times that they would not ban fracking. (It doesn’t matter that a president can’t do that without Congress.)
In two statewide polls of likely voters, one a few days before the first presidential debate and one immediately after the vice-presidential debate, Data for Progress asked voters the same questions about three climate policies: Achieving 100% carbon pollution – free electricity by 2035, an investment of $ 2 trillion in new clean energy infrastructure and a ban on fracking. In order to measure how this policy might develop in the event of an attack, we gave voters two different statements – one in favor of the Biden policy and one against – and asked them to choose which they most agree with. The exact wording of these questions is printed below:
1. Which statement is closer to your view?
• • The government should move the country to a 100% clean power grid by 2035 to address climate change and reduce pollution.
• • The government should keep our current system of using coal, oil and natural gas and clean energy sources to generate electricity based on the low energy prices.
• • I do not know
2. Which statement is closer to your view?
• • The government should invest $ 2 trillion over the next four years to create millions of jobs, rebuild the country’s infrastructure and transform America into a clean energy economy.
• • The government shouldn’t waste $ 2 trillion on politicians’ favorite projects as lavish government spending will dramatically increase national debt.
• • I do not know.
3. Which statement is closer to your view?
• • The government should ban “fracking,” the process of extracting trapped underground natural gas, as natural gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming and fracking causes air and water pollution at well sites.
• • The government shouldn’t ban fracking because the natural gas industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers in well-paying jobs and natural gas is a cheap source of energy that is much cleaner than other fuels like oil and coal.
• • I do not know.
The responses showed a slight but statistically significant move in relation to these climate policies as voters turned to their party’s leaders. Among all voters, support for a clean electricity standard in 2035 remained essentially constant at around 50 percent before and after the debate. Support for a $ 2 trillion infrastructure investment in clean energy rose slightly from 52 percent to 54 percent, despite being within the margin of error. And above all, we observed a clear move away from a fracking ban, support for which fell by seven points from 46 percent before the debates to 39 percent after the debates.
These tendencies are more pronounced among voters who identify themselves as Democrats. Democratic voter support for a clean electricity standard in 2035 remained steady at 67 percent after the debates. Their support for a $ 2 trillion infrastructure investment in clean energy rose five points, from 66 percent to 71 percent. And their support for a fracking ban fell a staggering 16 points from 65 percent to 49 percent.
Surveys before and after these debates show an asymmetrical polarization in key climate policy issues that take place more or less in real time. When Trump and Pence tried to link Biden and Harris to a fracking ban – a policy that Republicans believe could prevent the Democrats from winning Pennsylvania – the Democratic candidates were quick and forceful in making it clear, that this wasn’t their platform. All over the country, voters heard them loud and clear. Democrats across the country are less advocating a fracking ban today than they were in September.
This, like so many other “debates” in the Trump era, feels like a sideline. A president cannot ban fracking – only an act of Congress could do it, and environmentalists are far from getting the votes for such a move. The 116th Congress passed legislation banning fracking justice 21 co-sponsors in the house, and Senator Bernie Sanders has accompanying legislation in the Senate right now one lonely co-sponsor. Instead, lawmakers like – how Biden and most of the Democratic Party – have said they are more of a regulatory approach to constraining the industry and ultimately phasing it out in the longer term. Against this background, the movement against a fracking ban is certainly an unfortunate development, but not a catastrophic one, as a fracking ban was mainly about expanding the boundaries of the national debate, which Congress could not realistically pass in the short term.
But with the data at our disposal, we wonder if the time Biden and Harris spent refuting the Trump and Republican trade-offs could have been better used to go on the offensive instead. Our research suggests that if Biden and Harris had been equally energetic in promoting their $ 2 trillion investment in clean energy and the clean power standard in 2035, they couldn’t just have done so mobilized But so do Democrats persuaded young people, Latinos and swing voters vote blue. In other moments, Biden found the right formula. “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘kidding,'” Biden told reporters in July when he released his updated climate plans. “When I think of climate change, I think of jobs.” Our research shows that voters are mindful of what candidates say on these issues. And when it comes to climate, clean energy, the environment, and now even the economy, Republicans – not Democrats – have drawn themselves into the corner. If they are wise, the center-left will turn things around and it will be Trump and Republicans who are on their backs for the next and final debate on October 22nd.
From September 25-27, Progress Data conducted a poll of 1,092 likely national-level voters using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters based on age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The error rate is +/- 3 percentage points.
Then, October 9-11, the Progress Data conducted a survey of 1,195 likely national-level voters using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters based on age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The error rate is +/- 2.8 percentage points.