Voters Want Renewable Energy, Not Drilling

Public Opinion data show that voters in four key swing states overwhelmingly favor renewable energy over drilling to solve our energy problems.

The current energy crisis has made American voters look more favorably on a wide range of ideas that can be used to deal with our energy problems. But voters don’t favor all of these ideas equally; they have clear views on which approaches they think will work best. Consider these data from a recent Quinnipiac University poll of voters in four key swing states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Voters were asked what was “the best way to help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil”: new nuclear power plants; drilling offshore and in Alaska; developing renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biofuels; releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve; or mandating higher mileage standards for cars.

Developing renewable energy sources was ranked far ahead of all the other choices in all four states. In Colorado, renewable energy was deemed the best approach by 54 percent, with the second choice (drilling) far behind at 21 percent. In Michigan and Minnesota, it was 56 percent renewable energy, followed by drilling at 18 percent. And in Wisconsin, it was 59 percent for renewable energy, followed by nuclear power at a mere 9 percent.

Chart One

More generally, voters were asked whether they wanted the next president to focus more on developing new sources of oil, natural gas, and nuclear power, or wind, solar, and biofuels. In every state, voters preferred the latter, a renewable energy focus, by a wide margin: 55-33 in Colorado, 58-33 in Michigan, 61-31 in Minnesota, and 62-32 in Wisconsin.

Chart Two

These data make it clear that, no matter what conservatives claim, voters have clear preferences on the best way to deal with energy problems going forward, and those preferences involve renewable energy, not drilling.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow