Off-Shore Drilling a Winning Message for McCain, But Other Energy Proposals Garner Even More Enthusiasm
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Roughly 60% of Independents say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported easing restrictions on off-shore drilling, according to a recent Gallup survey (figure above). But the survey also shows that there's an even stronger positive response when Americans are asked about voting for a candidate who favors establishing tax incentives to reward energy conservation; who favors raising fuel mileage standards; or who favors authorizing a $150 billion dollar investment in the development of renewable energy technology.
Yet off-shore drilling remains a winning message for McCain since it is the one dimension of the two candidate's energy proposals that he can draw a contrast on.
Investing in nuclear energy, on the other hand, doesn't generate nearly as much of an enthusiastic response from voters, with only 47% of all Americans saying they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who backed expanded nuclear power, and only 48% among Independents (figure below).
Whoever is elected president, nuclear energy is likely to be a battle. The more hardline environmental groups are likely to strongly protest the inclusion of nuclear in any energy bill, potentially paralyzing the legislative process.
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