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Climate Group Poll: Fracking and Climate Issues Benefit Dems in PA

“I am not banning fracking,” Joe Biden said at a Monday campaign stop in Pittsburgh. “Let me say that again. I’m not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

For the past decade conventional wisdom has held that natural gas development is an issue that benefits Republicans over Democrats. It has motivated attacks from Trump and allied super PACs. The New York Times, in a representative headline, called it “The swing issue that could win a swing state.” 

“The conventional wisdom about Pennsylvania voters and fracking is wrong,” said Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power 2020. The coalition of environmental advocacy groups unveiled a new poll Monday in an effort to show that a more granular look at public opinion favors Democrats on energy and the environment. That gap widened even more after respondents heard pro-Trump and pro-Biden arguments.

“Pennsylvania voters believe climate change is a serious problem and are ready for lawmakers to take action. Trump’s lies and made-up attacks on climate change are backfiring in a state he must win to hold on to his presidency,” Lodes continued. 

The poll found Biden ahead of Trump by 8 points, 50-to-42, in Pa. However, Biden extends his lead over Trump to 15 points, 55-to-40, after respondents heard prominent talking points meant to reflect both parties’ positions on fracking and climate change. Biden’s net favorability rating also jumped 11 points, to 56-to-41, after respondents heard all the talking points. 

The pro-Trump message read, in part: “Joe Biden wants to ban fracking in Pennsylvania, which would kill 600,000 jobs.” The pro-Biden message read, in part: “Joe Biden does not support a ban on fracking – he supports common sense safeguards to protect our water from contamination by toxic chemicals.” 

The full survey memo, including questions and talking points used, is here

Climate Power 2020 is an independently run project created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club. Its Pennsylvania operation is co-chaired by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and state Reps. Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny) and Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). 

The online, voter-file matched survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group and included 801 registered voters in Pennsylvania between August 13-19 and has a ± 3.5% margin of error. Global Strategy Group polling leans in Democrats favor by an average of 1.8%, according to analysts at FiveThirtyEight, which gives the pollster a B/C rating. 

Any internal poll results should be taken with a grain of salt. Climate Action 2020 is up front about its intentions by releasing it: to encourage Dems to go on offense on energy and the environment.

To that end, it drills deeper than the typically broad phrasing of poll questions, like an August poll from CBS News which asked, “Do you generally favor or oppose the process of fracking in the state of Pennsylvania?” (52% oppose vs 48% support).

Most striking of all is the difference between simple phrasing. 61% of respondents had a favorable view of the “natural gas industry” versus 23% unfavorable – net favorable by 38 points. But 50% of respondents had an unfavorable view of “the fracking industry” versus 32% favorable, net unfavorable by 18 points. That is a swing of 56 points merely by saying “fracking” in place of “natural gas.” 

The memo doesn’t indicate that the pollster asked about a total moratorium on fracking. But it did find broad support for increased regulation. 66% said that they supported that position, a number that grew to 74% when specific examples of regulations were provided. 62% of respondents said they’d support switching to renewable energy by 2050. The memo shows voters in the Philly market consistently support the measures by 10-to-24 points more than voters in the Pittsburgh market. 

The results are a stark contrast to a recent poll from the American Petroleum Institute. That poll was conducted between June 26-July 1, 2020 by Morning Consult, among a sample of 799 Pennsylvania Registered Voters. It found a Pa. electorate that is more or less happy with current energy policies – albeit inclined to support clean energy and to minimize environmental harm.

80% in that poll said natural gas and oil provide value to them personally, while just 13% said it does not provide much value or no value at all to them. 60% said that they would either be “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to vote for a candidate who supports access to natural gas and oil produced in the U.S., while 13% said that they’d be “much less likely” and “somewhat less likely” to support that candidate, and 27% said that they weren’t sure. It did not include a Trump-v-Biden ballot test. 

67% in that poll said that it is “extremely/very important” to invest in the development of new clean energy sources, however. 

The full poll is here

On the generic ballot for Congress, Democrats led 51-to-44 in the Climate Power 2020 poll.

Rep. Kenyatta, who serves as a co-chair of the Pennsylvania operation, said that the polling released from the group shows that voters in the state want “bold action on climate change.”

“Voters across Pennsylvania want bold action on climate change,” he said. “Transformational investments in clean energy will create jobs and give our economy the boost it needs right now. People have had enough of President Trump’s COVID and climate denialism, and they are not falling for the false attacks on Joe Biden’s bold climate plan.”

PoliticsPA is seeking comment from the Trump campaign on this polling. 

Recent polling indicates that Biden has the slight edge over Trump in the state. The Real Clear Politics average shows Biden besting Trump by 4.7 points in Pennsylvania.

See the full survey here.

This story was updated to correct the name of the group as Climate Power 2020, not Climate Action.

19 Responses

  1. Fracking should be permanently banned everywhere, in all 50 states and the rest of the planet. Fracking for natural gas and oil with fracking is like slowly committing suicide and murder. Fracking is currently being used in both the Western and North Eastern part of Pennsylvania. The industry doesn’t even follow or meet the safety, health and safety and environmental protection laws. All it cares about is maximizing profit, cutting costs (environmental, safety & health regulations,” and eliminating labor. Governor Wolf doesn’t support fracking in the Delaware Watershed, but supports it everywhere else in PA. Fracking is too dangerous to be conducted safely, it is too expensive, and it is totally unnecessary for our energy needs now and into the future. Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and biomass fuels are ready to do the job bow. What we lack is the “political will,” We lack the vision, the skills and the mission to win hearts and minds.

    Fracking is too dangerous to be conducted safely. It is too expensive to use, especially when you factor in, monitoring for radioactive radon in the natural gas as it is used and piped under pressure into the house,

  2. Yeah weird that a state with a lot of fracking and all the problems associated with it means PA residents have a realistic view of fracking. Unlike the Trump base and Trump himself who sees it as a wedge or gotcha issue. Why doesn’t Trump do something other than attack? Because he has no policy platform other than protecting himself.

    1. WRONG. Completely WRONG. This is Fake news. CHYNA has been stealing from us. I brought it back. I mean… Trump, the GREATEST President ever, brought jobs back. Everyone knows it. He is great and Melania likes him. She isn’t annoyed by him at all.

      Natural gas is good. Its been very. Very. Good. We should talk about more jobs. Good. Very good paying jobs. Natural gas gives us that. Sleepy Joe cannot remember where Scranton is. He has to have someone drive and fly him there. Very sad.

      I will keep bringing jobs back. CHYNA has stolen jobs- while democrats helped through their globalization agenda – very bad. Very. Very bad.

      I’m going to bring them back so CHYNA stops stealing and making viruses attached to terrible bugs. Scary. Very scary.

      Vote for Trump.

        1. Lock Ned Up. Where are the emails? No one knows. Gone. Erased. FBI can’t find them. Ned covered them up and destroyed the hard drive. Im going to send him to jail for a very. Very. Long time.

          1. You are truly a P-brain, huh?
            Where is the server with Trump asking the president of Ukraine for dirt on Hunter Biden. The FBI is coming for the Huh!!

      1. Chyna the professional woman wrestler?

        How has she been stealing from us? Are you saying that professional wrestling is fake?

  3. The comments miss the point about the article because everybody wants to post a speech about their politics. Fracking was long known to exist but was expensive energy to extract. When energy became really costly fracking became an option. But as energy declines in cost as other sources of energy less costly arise fracking recedes in value. Biden is not the problem with fracking but rather other sources of energy less expensive are a challenge to it.

  4. Biden cannot escape the fact that he has been complacent with the riots and sympathetic to the fires and looting and lawlessness. The Democrats failed to mention it at the DNC because they are so out of touch with the common man. Americans deserve and expect to be safe and have the freedom of standing their ground not to be threatened by mob rule. The Democrats are weak on law and order and Biden has waited too late and looks way to old and feeble!

    1. Maybe turn off Fox News, Mark. You seem to forget that all of the looting and rioting is happening with … wait for it… Trump as President.

      1. And if Democrats lit the capitol on fire, would that be Trump’s fault?
        Trump is embarrassing, but those rioters are anti american nut jobs who are voting for Biden. They are registering Dems.
        Take ownership or disown them. By not condemning them, you have to acknowledge a lack of leadership on the issue.

        1. I guess you didn’t see the pick-up trucks with Trump flags on them with Trumoaters shooting paintballs.

          1. So, to be clear, a small group of smacked asses with a political sign speak for the president? So, i can wear a biden shirt, burn things and it will be Biden’s responsibility? I feel like you be making my point but without the better position.

            Trump has said its bad. He should have called out the morons with paintballs- but this is the ramping up of idiocy we see when people are burning police stations with cops in them, shooting cops, hitting them with bricks, looting businesses, for months and weak party leaders do not condemn them because they are part of a base who needs to vote.

          2. Trump also defended the kid who shot and killed 2 people and wounded another. It’s his base, so he will defend it.

          3. Just wait – 17 yr old will be found to be innocent of those charges. They may throw something smaller at him because they can’t let whitey get away with shooting anyone right now. Constitutional rights be damned. You can complain about Trump… you should… but the fact remains. Trump may be right and a 17 yr old kid should be defended. Innocent until proven guilty, especially when cities are Burning, calling for the eradication of capitalism and America’s founding principles. Why would anyone expect a 17 yr old idiot kid to run out in the streets and try to support his country?

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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