Poll: Climate Change Not a Top Priority for Most Adults

Despite deluge of debates and protests, issue ranks sixth

Environmental activists block an intersection in Washington, D.C. / Getty Images
September 24, 2019

Climate change is not a top priority for a majority of likely voters, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

A survey conducted by the nonprofit American Council for Capital Formation along with Morning Consult showed the top five priorities among likely 2020 voters are (in order, with percentages): the economy (19), health care (16), national security (8), gun policy (8), and seniors' issues (8).

After those issues, climate change was tied with immigration at 7 percent.

A slight majority of respondents also said they had no opinion, or had not heard, of the Green New Deal, the sweeping climate plan originally proposed by freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) in February and championed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

"When [voters] are educated on it, they are skeptical of it being implemented," ACCF chief economist Pinar Cebi Wilber said. "If lawmakers wish to find solutions to climate change that will win the hearts and minds of voters, they must understand that energy is the backbone of a healthy economy and work in a bipartisan manner to find a menu of realistic solutions that strike a balance between protecting the environment and the economy."

The survey was conducted September 13-15 and connected with almost 2,200 adults. Its margin of error was +/- 2 percent.

A majority of respondents, 57 percent, said climate change is happening and is caused by human activity. Only 6 percent said it is not happening. However, the respondents placed little trust in either the federal government or corporations to "do the right things" in regards to the issue, and instead were more likely to place their trust in small businesses and "everyday Americans."

Raising taxes to combat climate change was unpopular among those polled. Only 10 percent were willing to see their taxes raised by $50 or more a month while 37 percent said they were not willing to have their taxes raised at all.

Likewise, survey respondents expressed reluctance to see increases to electric bills or transportation costs.

CNN and MSNBC have held extensive town halls and candidate forums on climate change in the last month, and millions protested worldwide on Friday to draw attention to the issue as well.

Published under: Climate Change