Top GOP Pollster: Climate Concerns Rising Among Republicans

May 26, 2019

New poll showing increased support for climate action, especially an increase among young Republicans.

It’s from Frank Luntz, famous for many a Fox News focus group, as well as the infamous “Luntz Memo”, which instructed GOP candidates on how to deal with global warming as an issue, but creating doubt, and calling it “climate change”. See video above for more on this.

Significantly, the poll shows support for a “Carbon Dividends Plan” – which is also known as a “Carbon fee and Dividend” – a carbon tax.


Carbon Dividends Plan has majority support across party lines – including 4-1 supportoverall, 2-1 support from GOP voters and 75% support from Republicans under 40.

By a margin of more than 8 to 1, American voters are more worried about climate than they were just one year ago.

With concern about climate change increasing in both parties, 60% of voters want Congress to take a new approach.

4 out of 5 of voters want Congress to put politics aside and reach a bipartisan solution.

69% of GOP voters are worried that their party’s stance on climate change is hurting them with young voters.

60% of Democrats are open to trading existing regulations for a market-based solution.

Climate Progress:

A new survey finds Republicans under 40 support a carbon tax 7-to-1. And a remarkable 85% of Republican millennials are concerned that “the current Republican position on climate change is hurting the party with younger voters.”
But what makes this result so striking is that the survey was conducted by Frank Luntz, a top GOP strategist and pollster. Luntz wrote an infamous memo in 2002 detailing the exact words conservatives should use if they want to sound like they care about climate change without actually doing anything about it.
Luntz, for instance, is the one who urged Republicans to use the phrase “climate change,” arguing that it is “less frightening” than “global warming.”
Significantly, Luntz’s firm, which has been polling this issue for decades, reported this week that a Carbon Dividend Plan — which charges fossil fuel companies for their carbon emissions and rebates the money directly back to the public — is uniquely popular.

“This is the first time we’ve polled a climate plan that has real positive appeal across Republicans and Democrats,” Nick Wright, a partner at Luntz Global, told Axios.
Most GOP leaders, however, still only offer climate plans built around Luntz’s 2002 recommendations, which means repeating the poll-tested words “technology” and “innovation” over and over while never committing to anything that might actually start reducing emissions now as the science advises in order to avoid catastrophe.

The Carbon Dividends Plan that Luntz tested is from the bipartisan Climate Leadership Council founded by Ted Halstead along with corporate giants like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, GM, and Ford. It was co-authored by former Secretaries of State James A. Baker, III and George P. Shultz, and has also been embraced by Americans for Carbon Dividends, an industry-backed group co-chaired by former Sens. John Breaux and Trent Lott.
Luntz surveyed 1,000 voters nationwide earlier this month and found that carbon taxes rebated to the public have 4-to-1 overall support (66% support versus 15% oppose), which is similar to its support level among swing voters. Republicans support the plan 2-to-1 (53% versus 25%), with overwhelming support from Republicans under 40 (75% supporting, 11% opposing).

The carbon tax proposal calls for a steadily rising price on carbon that starts at $40 per ton; a family of four would get about $2,000 in payments in the first year.
Yet, while this price represents a serious start in the effort to reduce carbon pollution, the overall plan is problematic for many environmentalist because of two provisions.
First, the Carbon Dividends Plan would require phasing out “many, though not all, Obama-era carbon dioxide regulations … including a repeal of the Clean Power Plan,” which uses the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards for existing power plants. Second, it would shield fossil fuel companies from climate lawsuits.

“We do not support a plan that preempts existing law or tort liability,” David Doniger, senior strategic director for climate and clean energy programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Think Progress via email. “We want to add tools to the toolbox, not trade them off.”
But the good news is that the survey question that found overwhelming support for putting a price on carbon and rebating the money to consumers did not ask people about preempting lawsuits or undoing existing laws. So, this suggests that there may be room for a climate deal in Congress, assuming the public elects a president who understands the existential nature of the threat.


8 Responses to “Top GOP Pollster: Climate Concerns Rising Among Republicans”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Sixteen years since the Luntz memo was published and we haven’t made much, if any, progress (see the 97% consensus” Crock post about recent “doubt sowing”). This carbon plan is just more of the same—-delay, confuse, and distract while the GHG levels rise and the greedy rich get richer.

    “….the overall plan is problematic for many environmentalists because of two provisions”.

    “First, the Carbon Dividends Plan would require phasing out “many, though not all, Obama-era carbon dioxide regulations … including a repeal of the Clean Power Plan,” which uses the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards for existing power plants. Second, it would shield fossil fuel companies from climate lawsuits”.

    “Problematic” is not the right word—-“scam” would be better.

    The several charts here are misleading—rather than looking at what young Repugnants think (many of whom will not bother to vote anyway), one should focus on the hard core “not concerned, didn’t change, BAU” numbers—they show that a hard core of Repugnants are not moving in a positive direction on climate change. Couple that with the misogyny, xenophobia, and all the other “phobias” that Trump and the oligarchs will keep pushing to the “base” and the issue is still very much in doubt.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Small comfort, but there are at least some efforts that lower the carbon footprints of even AGW-apathetic people. State regulations and/or corporate programs can shift power generation to renewables (like wind/solar in Texas) or reduce consumption (phasing out incandescents, make EVs more accessible to the mainstream).

      Anecdatum: When I replaced my refrigerator two years ago, not only was the new one more efficient, but the movers remarked on how much heavier the old one they took away was.

  2. jimbills Says:

    A good review of it and another plan is here:

    If Exxon and a guy like Luntz are on board, then I’d personally be extremely skeptical of the plan. The $40 plan would hurt coal definitely, but the oil companies would be protected from lawsuits, they’d see an easing of regulations on national and potentially state levels, and because EVs aren’t close to replacing oil yet, they’d still have a lock on the market for at least a decade. The dividend would theoretically ease consumers ability to buy gas, and most people drive because they have to do so, anyway. I’m guessing they figure this wouldn’t hurt their bottom line, it would cut any other climate legislation off at the knees for several years, they’d be spared the lawsuits, and then who knows, maybe people will vote against the plan after a while like they’ve done elsewhere.

    In any case, better than nothing, yes, but it’s not nearly enough – and I’m guessing this could be used as a club to prevent any other legislation for many years.

  3. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Yeah, we have to use a carbon dividend to make it worth some people’s while to do something about climate change. Time to post this again.

  4. Terry Donte Says:

    Lie enough and people believe in anything. What is next, trolls under the bridge? Oh wait, that was the thing people believed in the past, they have moved on to climate change caused by man.

    We have plenty of problems in the this world, Getting rid of polluting coal plants is one of those problems, climate change is not.

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