As Congress considers pivoting from disaster relief to economic stimulus and governors gradually open up their states to activity, four out of five voters want government investment in clean energy, communications and transportation to produce new jobs, according to a new survey conducted by the nonprofit Coalition for Green Capital.
But neither business nor government leaders have yet earned the trust of a majority of voters.
Voters most trust state and local government to create new jobs (38%). They register less trust in job creation efforts by Donald Trump (34%), small business (32%), Joe Biden (25%), Nancy Pelosi (17%), and, at the absolute bottom, Mitch McConnell (7%).
Joe Biden clearly has to step up his message on job creation. Donald Trump should be struck by the fact that to date his response to the unemployment crisis causes 36% of independents – the key block for re-election prospects — to be less likely to vote for him, and only 27% of them to be more likely to vote for him. Among all voters his response makes 39% more likely, 38% less likely to support him, but one of five voters answers don’t know. These results indicate that the next few months are determinative in shaping public opinion about presidential leadership on the economy. However, views on his response to unemployment reveal a dramatic gender gap: women report that Trump’s response makes them less likely to vote for him by a margin of 48% to 33%, men say it makes them more likely to vote for him by 42% to 31%.
Overall, the low scores for everyone on the trust question indicate to us that voters have not heard a compelling, credible job creation message from anyone. The message to the private sector and both presidential campaigns is clear: you have work to do in proving you have a plan to produce work.
But everyone must note that four out of five voters want government stimulus to create clean energy jobs. By contrast, barely half support investment to create jobs in oil, gas and coal. Among independents, 75% support clean energy job creation, against only 47% who support government investment creating jobs in carbon industries. Underlying these results is a profound shift of attitude about climate change. Four out of five voters think climate change is a major crisis or at least a real problem to be solved.
Strategists for the two presidential campaigns must recognize also that in the key swing states of Wisconsin and Michigan voters oppose government job creation in oil, gas and coal by margins of 47% to 38% and 43% to 39% respectively. By contrast, 77% of the voters in Michigan and 72% in Wisconsin want the government to create clean energy jobs. Although some political leaders have labelled economic stimulus for clean energy in this crisis as “opportunism,” the poll shows that job creation in this sector is an opportunity to carry the swing states crucial to winning the electoral college.
In terms of how to create new jobs, seven out of ten voters approve of the US government depositing $35 billion in a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that would create five million new clean energy jobs. This plan is succeeding today in a number of state and local green banks already in operation in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Rhode Island and elsewhere. Legislation to implement this plan at the federal level has been introduced in the House and Senate and could be incorporated in any job creation package.
Seventy percent or more of voters want jobs created in these specific activities: solar and wind power, transmission lines for carrying renewable energy, protecting communities from fires and storms, tree planting in environmentally important areas (including Appalachia), and renovating buildings to make them more energy efficient. It’s clear that Americans want to build a new country, based on a clean power platform. By huge margins voters see clean power construction work, as well as other infrastructure employment, as a way out of this crisis and into the sunny uplands of a better country. Political leaders who want to respond to the voters’ preferences will see a clear message in these poll results.