24 Jun 2009 African-Americans Favor Delay on Climate Change Legislation
Washington, DC – Democrats risk alienating one of their most important constituencies by advancing the Waxman-Markey climate change bill this week or any time before an economic recovery is underway, according to the non-partisan National Center for Public Policy Research.
The National Center for Public Policy Research bases this conclusion on the results of a nationwide poll it commissioned of African-Americans. The poll, released today, suggests anxiety in the black community over Waxman-Markey-style regulations.
The survey of 800 African-Americans included 640 self-identified Democrats (80%) and 32 Republicans (4%).
Among the poll’s key findings:
* 76% of African-Americans want Congress to make economic recovery its top priority, even if it delays action on climate change;
* 38% believe job losses resulting from climate change legislation would fall heaviest on the African-American community. Only 7% believe job losses would fall heaviest on Hispanics and only 2% believe they would fall heaviest on whites;
* 56% believe Washington policymakers have failed to adequately take into account the economic and quality of life concerns of the African-American community when formulating climate change policy;
* 52% of respondents aren’t willing pay anything more for either gasoline or electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 73% are unwilling to pay more than 50 cents more for a gallon of gas and 76% are unwilling to pay more than $50 more per year for electricity to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions;
* African-Americans are virtually deadlocked on whether to proceed with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if doing so increases consumer prices and unemployment. 44% of those surveyed said emissions reductions should not proceed under these circumstances, while 45% said they should continue. Significantly, a strong majority (59% to 33%) of those surveyed in the West North Central Region (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska) and a plurality (43% to 42%) of those in the East Central Region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) opposed emissions reductions if they increase costs or unemployment.
“If concern about a Waxman-Markey-style climate change bill is running this high among group of predominantly Obama voters, it’s bound to be much higher among the general population,” said David A. Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, who directs the group’s Public Opinion Policy Center, which issued the poll. “African-Americans are unwilling to pay even a cent more for gas and electricity to reduce greenhouse emissions. Many are concerned that the costs of the regulations will fall disproportionately on them. And an overwhelming majority of African-Americans prefer to put economic recovery before action on climate change. All this spells a bad climate for climate change legislation. If Speaker Pelosi ignores these signs of discontent within her party’s base, she does so at her own peril.”
“It’s also significant that the poll shows that support for the kind of climate legislation backed by the Democratic leadership is very weak in the central states.” Ridenour added, “As the overwhelming majority of the people we polled are self-identified Democrats and Obama voters, one would expect them to largely agree with the Democratic leadership on this high-profile issue, but they don’t. This may in part be why Speaker Nancy Pelosi has run into strong resistance to the Waxman-Markey bill from Democratic Congressmen representing the central states.”
The scientific, telephone survey of 800 African American adults was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and has a margin of error of +/- 3.4%. The complete survey, with crosstabs, can be viewed at: http://www.nationalcenter.org/BlackOpinion.html.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC. It is a truly independent foundation with 94% of its revenue derived through hundreds of thousands of small contributions. Just 1.5% of its revenue comes from corporations and 4.5% from philanthropic foundations.