The Green New Deal is popping. New polling released on Friday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that 81 percent of respondents across the political spectrum support the progressive plan to combat climate change by rapidly weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels.
The findings are stunning but also come with a couple caveats, namely that most people haven’t heard much about the Green New Deal, and they may not know of its connection to incoming representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a bete noire in the right wing fever swamps. Still, the fact that the idea enjoys broad support in a semi-vacuum shows that before Americans descend into their political bunkers, progressive policies are actually quite popular.
The Green New Deal is a set of aspirational goals in line with the best available climate science. Among those goals are switching the U.S. electrical grid to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, improving energy efficiency, and setting up policies for a green jobs guarantee while planning a just transition for fossil fuel workers as they move into new economic sectors. If it sounds good to you, you’re not alone.
The new polling numbers (which are based on online polling of 966 registered voters) show that 81 percent of respondents support this idea either “somewhat” or “strongly”. That includes 92 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Independents, and even 64 percent of Republicans. The numbers are markedly higher than similar polling done by progressive think tank Data for Progress earlier this year. There’s no set plan for how to get there, but that’s why groups like the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats have been lobbying for Democratic leadership in the House to setup a select committee to create that plan.
But as with all good things, there’s a catch. While support for the Green New Deal is high, most people don’t know much about it. The Yale poll lays out the basics of what it would entail so people weren’t totally blind in answering the question, but when queried about how much they’d heard about it, 82 percent said they’d heard “nothing at all”. The Yale poll also didn’t identify that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those pushing hardest or that basically all politicians supporting it are Democrats.
That in itself makes the poll a fascinating snapshot of the simpler things. When politics are taken out, rank and file Republicans are down with common sense climate action. But as the Green New Deal becomes more of A Thing outside of the left, it will almost certainly be used as a wedge issue by elected Republicans.
Which seems a little foolish, not only because the world will transition to a carbon-free economy, but because this is a policy Republican voters support.