October 27th, 2009
05:00 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: 6 in 10 back 'cap and trade'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Six in 10 Americans support a "cap and trade" proposal to cut pollution, according to a new national poll.

Sixty percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor "cap and trade," a Democratic sponsored plan in which the federal government would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that companies could produce in their factories or power plants. Thirty-seven percent oppose the proposal, which would penalize companies that exceed greenhouse gas limits with fines or by making those businesses pay money to other companies that producer smaller amounts of pollution.

Full results (pdf)

The poll's release Tuesday morning comes as the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works holds a hearing on new "cap and trade" legislation. The bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-California and Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts), includes provisions to hold down costs to consumers and certain industries. Republicans say the bill would destroy jobs and increase taxes and energy costs for average Americans. The House of Representatives passed a "cap and trade" bill this summer along a party-line vote.

The survey indicates a generational divide, with 68 percent of Americans under age 50 supporting "cap and trade" but those 50 and older split on the issue.

"This is one more example of the growing generation gap that is shaping politics and policy in this country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Younger Americans voted for Obama and tend to welcome change. Older Americans were less enamored of change in the 2008 election and senior citizens were the only age group that voted for John McCain."

The poll also suggests a partisan divide, with three in four Democrats backing the proposal and nearly six in 10 independents on board as well, but only four in 10 Republicans supporting "cap and trade."

"The support of independents will be crucial to any cap and trade proposal," Holland says. "Independents may not be red or blue, but they appear to be green. Earlier polls indicate that Independents believe in global warming and believe that the government can take steps to curtail the problem. But the environment is not a big priority for Independents, as it is with Democrats."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 16-18, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: CNN Polls • Energy
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Just My Opinion in Texas

    Oh, puh-leeze!

    Anyone can make ANY poll say what they want .. it's just how you phrase the question(s) involved and who you question.

    Phrase it "Do you want the US to do more to control greenhouse gases?" and I'm certain you'll get a majority to say yes.

    Phrase it "Are you willing to enact legislation to curtail greenhouse gases, even if it will cost you and your family $2,000 – $5,000+ MORE in electricity, gasoline and overall transportaion costs, per year, when all legislation goes into effect?" and in THIS economic climate ... the overwhelming answer will be "NO!" to "BLEEP! NO!".

    Polls mean nothing until you know how the question was asked and who was asked.

    Sorry CNN .... but I don't believe what you're trying to sell.

    October 27, 2009 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. Joe in NJ

    Six in ten Americans don't understand the ramifications Cap and Trade will have.

    October 27, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Larry S

    1) You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
    2) What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
    3) The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
    4) When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
    5) You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

    October 27, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. No Booklearnin'

    Doesn't matter. Lobbyists don't like it and are being well paid to fight it. There is no global warming, the earth is flat, there is no evolution and chocolate causes brain damage.

    I hear the clock in the background going "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo".

    October 27, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. Mark

    Did the pollster bother to tell those they polled that certain members of society, Al Gore comes to mind, stand to make a fortune off of this scam and that their costs for heating and cooling their homes could soar? Or that some countries are not even going to participate in this hoax? Instead they will make it easy for businesses to relocate there when this country becomes to costly to do business in. These elites are purposely destroying whatever remains of this economy in an effort to forever wipe out the middle class.

    October 27, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. Larry S

    what can be said but this . . . when oBLAHma speaks, it lowers the strength of America . . . and we are deeper in debt.

    October 27, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but.....

    Cap and Traitor, that's very clever. I suppose you've got a better idea on how to slow global warming. We're all waiting to hear it. Have a nice day!

    October 27, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. caroline

    Cap and Trade is extortion!!! Those that favor such a scam are either ignorant or marxist. The science is in, the earth is actually cooling. Stop the charade and call cap and trade what it is- an attempt at legal extortion from the red states to the blue states.

    October 27, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. Patrick Lewis

    There are lots of rants about this, but cap and trade is not at all radical. There are numerous examples of this kind of market based system working well to achieve desired results. In this case, the desired result is the overall lowering of emissions.

    Consider that without cap and trade, there is no single mechanism available to even quantify our total carbon output, much less lower it. This is not a tax on polluters, it is a way to give them an economic incentive to become less harmful.

    By the way, understand that reducing carbon is not the end of the story. There are other ways to pollute than just with carbon dioxide and scrubbing carbon dioxide from the air requires a tremendous amount of water that then needs to be treated. We are still feeling our way towards not polluting ourselves off this planet, but this is a good first step.

    October 27, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  10. a real American

    I can't for one second believe that clear-headed, rational Americans favor crap and trade.... but for those who seem to think it's such a great idea, they are certainly welcome to pay for all of it! Just don't complain when you realize it's a big scam to benefit wealthy liberals who push green technology (Al Gore, Pelosi, etc.), all the while cruisin' thousands of miles in their gas-sucking jets!

    October 27, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  11. New Age Independent

    6 in 10? This is complete garbage. I don't know of a single person that approves of this scam.

    October 27, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  12. Rick

    How about the actual breakdown of how many people polled were Dems/Inds/Reps? Let's be honest about the numbers presented. If 60% are in favor (I'm not one of them, as I believe in a Free Market Economy), how many of the people in favor of the whole are Dems? Just looking for some honesty in reporting. This is part of the reason CNN is falling to the wayside.

    October 27, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Enough

    This poll can't be correct. Who would support this Cap and Tax plan that will cost tax payers a fortune and cost a lot of jobs. If Obama was really worried about saving the environment he wouldn't be flying all over the country campaigning..............at the tax payers expense and causing all that pollution. What a hypocrite, he never met a tax he didn't like.

    October 27, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The question is really: would you want a cap-and-trade or a carbon tax? I think that the cap-and-trade would spur companies to increace the efficiencies that they can do. It also spurs other businesses to offer services to do the inspections for finding efficiency improvements and renovations to equipment to reduce pollution. The fears that this will be passed onto consumers is limited. We need to have people who have foresite into the future. We can do more with forward thinking. Let us show leadership in this field for once.

    October 27, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |

    If this den of fools does this than it will be 'see ya later U.S.A.'. We had better wise up or there will be nothing left of this great country.

    October 27, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. LIChris

    Another poll that confirms 60% of the public supports an Obama policy. The 35% people of "No" might scream loud, but that is no excuse to cater to them. Put through the policies we elected you to do.

    October 27, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  17. File under "Sarcasm"

    The poll question was simple and straight forward, unlike the actual policy and the myriad ways it will negatively impact the cost of goods and energy in the US.

    It's like asking if people would like to have milk companies supply free ice cream every day without talking about who will ultimately pay for it as the companies pass on their costs, as health care costs increase from obesity and heart disease, and as prices of milk and grain products increase as demand rises to supply "free" ice cream.

    October 27, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. jamfsu

    I am sure the polling questions were phrased perfectly to get these numbers. If the questions were "do you support paying an additional $1,000+ per year to decrease global warming," then I'm sure the polling numbers would be more appropriate.

    October 27, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. All the news that is fit to omit

    Obama himself said that this would cost ALL of us THOUSANDS of dollars, call them taxes, call them fees, we all are going to pay in many ways so just disrergard the "nobody making less than 250,000" no new taxes nonsense from the liar in chief.

    CNN if you were a real news organization you would tell BOTH sides of the story complete with the experts that dispute the Crap and trade idea based on it is garbage and also by posting the Obama and company quotes saying that people will pay more and some utilities will fail to exist???

    Nah, stay happily in last place, "other" people will do the job that you folks won't.

    Number one for a reason...............

    October 27, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. 4 of 10

    I see that the pool for yet another poll was pulled from the roster of the DNC

    October 27, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Rasmussen disagrees.

    "Fifty-six percent (56%) of Americans say they are not willing to pay more in taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming."

    "Fifty-two percent (52%) of all adults say it is more important to keep the cost of energy as low as possible than it is to develop clean, environmentally friendly sources of energy."

    "Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Mainstream Americans say they are not willing to pay higher taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming,"

    "Americans have mixed feelings about the historic climate change bill that passed the House, but 42% say it will hurt the U.S. economy. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 19% believe the climate change bill passed by the House will help the economy. Fifteen percent (15%) say it will have no impact, and 24% are not sure."

    October 27, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  22. Kevin in Ohio

    Where the heck did you come up with THIS, CNN????????? Cap and Tax is NOT supported by a majority.... the majority is REASONABLE Americans who want to put an end to tax and spend policies of the liberal elite, as well as their endless apologies to the rest of the world..

    October 27, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  23. CJL

    ...because they have no idea what it means or how it works, and furthermore than have no idea what its like to run a business.

    October 27, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Alfred

    Show me 6 out of 10 people who support "Cap and Trade" and I'll show you 6 very uninformed people. As an Environmental Engineer, I know the real reasons behind this legislation and it's no more than "Environmental Justice" or whatever today's catchphrase may be. I also know the consequences of this legislation on our energy prices and the way we live our lives. Wake up, people, get informed. This is going to ruin our country.

    October 27, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. ATL Guy

    So essentially Republicans are against something that 60% of Americans support? How is that a winning strategy?

    October 27, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
1 2 3