Worth Discussing

One-Sided Questions: Here We Go Again

Resurgent Republic | October 27, 2009

A CNN/ORC survey from October 16-18 asked the following question on cap-and-trade:

'Under a proposal called 'cap and trade,' the federal government would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that companies could produce in their factories or power plants. If companies exceeded those limits, they would either pay a fine or pay money to other companies that produced smaller amounts of greenhouse gases. Would you favor or oppose this proposal?' Favor: 60 percent. Oppose: 37 percent.  The response is important to note, but it is only one-side of the story.

Just as one-sided questions on the public option garner wide support, similar to polling about “ending poverty” or “world peace” (See: Polling on the Public Plan), the same argument can be made regarding the cap-and-trade debate.  Cap-and-trade legislation will be decided in a public debate and Americans will hopefully hear both arguments in favor and in opposition to cap-and-trade.  One-sided questions on cap-and-trade do not reflect how this debate is most likely to unfold.

However, opponents of cap-and-trade should not blindly dismiss the new data either.  Rather it should provide a wake up call as to how the public will respond if they do not hear opposing arguments on the economic costs of such a policy.

Based upon our polling earlier this year, which presented both sides of this debate, we provided four key points. These points are still relevant today.

1.    Cap-and-trade opponents connect with voters when challenging the urgency of placing climate change at the top of Congress’ to-do list.

2.    Presenting the costs of a cap-and-trade program – the potential loss of jobs and an added strain on an economy in recession – builds further opposition and connects with voters, especially with Independents.

3.    Cap-and-trade proponents have a tough time justifying increasing energy prices in an already unstable economic environment.

4.    Opponents have work to do to counter the argument that more green jobs could be created as a result of cap-and-trade legislation.

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Filed under: News and Cap And Trade