America’s Hidden Common Ground on Climate Change

Results from a Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Snapshot Poll

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, January 24, 2020  - Hidden Common Ground 2020 is a major initiative spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, along with the National Issues Forums, the Election 2020: America Amplified Public Media Collaborative, and Ipsos. Through nonpartisan research, robust journalism, “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling, and community dialogue and events, the initiative promotes thoughtful, solutions-oriented public engagement during election season. The present snapshot survey focuses on how Americans think the country should come to terms with climate change. Read the full story from USA Today here

First, a strong majority of Americans (72%) agree on the importance of “reducing the effects of global climate change,” a total that includes 55% of Republicans, 78% of Independents and 86% of Democrats.

More specifically, Republicans and Democrats both tend to support climate change ideas that involve increasing energy efficiencies and modernizing production processes.  

  • Most Republicans (70%), Democrats (83%) and Independents (81%) support modernizing the U.S. electrical grid to reduce waste in energy production and distribution. Similarly, there is significant support for creating strong energy efficiency standards for all new and existing buildings (63% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 71% of Independents).

Where opinions diverge the most is on government finances.    

  • While 80% of Democrats support the U.S. government financially assisting US cities and states to fight climate change, just half of Republicans say the same. Taxing pollution like carbon dioxide and investing the resources in renewable energy is also not an ideal solution for Republicans (48%) but is for Democrats (72%).

With regards to infrastructural changes, Americans again converge on policies that introduce efficiencies for the public and begin to diverge on those that explicitly entail government spending or mandate action by business or private citizens:    

  • Majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (79 percent) and Independents (75 percent) support creating a nation-wide system of low pollution, high-speed trains. But a weaker plurality of Republicans (46%) support providing government subsidies to increase the number of charging stations for electric cars and trucks, compared to 72 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents. Meanwhile, the proposal to require all new cars and trucks to be energy efficient, such as electric vehicles, is supported by 40 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Independents.

Policies that affect the average American consumer are generally less well-received across all political parties. However, those that received more support, particularly among Republicans, impact narrow segments of the population (e.g. homeowners, electric car owners):

  • A majority of Republicans (61%), Democrats (77%), and Independents (69%) support providing tax breaks or incentives to homeowners/building owners who switch to renewable sources. 
  • Similarly, 59% of support providing tax breaks or incentives to people who buy electric cars or trucks.
  • Support is much lower for a policy that impacts the average American: creating a tax on the amount ordinary people pollute (24% of Republicans, 41% of Democrats, and 43% of Independents).

Overall, Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are supportive of policies that mandate recycling:

  • 69% support mandating recycling for nearly all American businesses (57% of Republicans, 80% of Democrats, and 76% of Independents).
  • 63% support mandating recycling for nearly all American households (53% of Republicans, 70% of Democrats, 72% of Independents).
  • 66% support providing government grants and tax incentives for recycling companies (60% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats, and 69% of Independents).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 10-13, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S. Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 407 Democrats, 397 Republicans, and 102 Independents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 5.6 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 11.1 percentage points for Independents.

For more information about this research, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

About The Hidden Common Ground Initiative

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on underappreciated and under-leveraged areas of agreement among the public on solutions to tough public problems, like health care and criminal justice. HCG 2020 is the election-year iteration of the initiative, spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, with The National Issues Forums (NIF), Ipsos, and the Election 2020 America Amplified Public Media Collaborative. It applies the HCG mission to an array of election year issues via nonpartisan research, national and local journalism, community-based and online deliberative forums, and “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling and events.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs