Poll: Many Trump Voters Support a Carbon Tax, Climate Action, Clean Energy

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

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A nationally representative survey conducted shortly after the presidential election finds that about half to a majority of Trump voters think global warming is happening and support a variety of climate and clean energy policies. For example:

  • About half of Trump voters (49 percent) think global warming is happening, while fewer than one in three (30 percent) think global warming is not happening.
  • More than six in 10 Trump voters (62 percent) support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, with nearly one in three (31 percent) supporting both approaches. In contrast, only about one in five (21 percent) support doing neither.
  • About half of Trump voters (47 percent) also say the U.S. should participate in the international agreement to limit global warming. By contrast, only 28 percent say the U.S. should not participate.
“On the issue of global warming, Trump voters are not all the same,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, lead researcher and director of the F&ES-based Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC). “Many of his supporters believe climate change is real and support regulation and even carbon taxes to reduce global warming pollution.”
On the issue of global warming, Trump voters are not all the same.
— Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
For example, about half of Trump voters support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes by an equal amount (48 percent), and support setting strict carbon dioxide emissions limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase (48 percent).
On clean energy, about three quarters of Trump voters support generating renewable energy (solar and wind) on public land in the U.S. (77 percent); say that, in the future, the U.S. should use more renewable energy (73 percent); support funding more research into clean energy (71 percent); and providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy efficient vehicles and solar panels (69 percent).
These findings come from a nationally-representative survey (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted by the YPCCC and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. 

“Like most Americans, majorities of Trump voters support the transition to clean energy,” said co-lead investigator Edward Maibach, of George Mason University. “If President Trump wants to lead the nation toward energy independence and a cleaner future, his voters will support him.”
The survey of 1,226 American adults, aged 18 and older, was conducted between Nov. 18 and Dec. 1, 2016 on the GfK KnowledgePanel.
The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
In addition to Leiserowitz and Maibach, principal investigators included Seth Rosenthal and Matthew Cutler of Yale University and Connie Roser-Renouf of George Mason University.
For questions about the survey, please contact Anthony Leiserowitz, or Edward Maibach.