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Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

New Poll Shows More Support for Obama’s Energy Policies, Natural Gas and Renewables

Tonight presidential candidate Mitt Romney will face incumbent President Barack Obama in the second of three debates in a tight race for an election just weeks away. Energy has been more of an issue in this election than recent presidential contests, with the candidates squaring off on coal, green jobs and climate change.

Today a new nationwide poll of over two thousand people by the University of Texas at Austin provides a glimpse into what voters feel about the policies of both candidates. And the results show a preference for the current president’s policies.

“Overall, 37 percent of respondents say Obama’s platform is best for the country, while 28 percent favor Romney’s views on energy,” says the new poll. “More than a third of those surveyed (35 percent) are not sure whose energy policies they prefer or are undecided.”

Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll, says in a statement that while the economy is a big issue this election, “two out of three consumers say energy issues are important to them,” she says. “Support for increased production of domestic energy supplies remains strong, and we’re also seeing a lot of interest in the promotion of alternative forms of energy and energy-saving technologies that crosses party lines.”

And climate change is becoming more of an issue as well. Here’s what the poll found:

  • In the first poll in March, 65 percent or respondents said climate change is occurring  In the September poll, that number went up to 73 percent. Notably, the poll finds that the increase was across all parties, and the jump was biggest in southern states, going from 57 percent to 71 percent of respondents who said climate change is occurring.
  • There appears to be something of a gender gap when it comes to energy issues. ”When asked to report their level of knowledge on energy issues, 45 percent of men consider themselves knowledgeable,” the poll says, “while just 20 percent of women do.”
  • And gas prices are, not surprisingly, a huge issue. 92 percent said they’re “concerned” about the price of gasoline, and 63 percent “are more likely to vote for a candidate promising to make it less expensive.”
  • 62 percent said they’re more likely to vote for “a candidate who says he will increase funding for scientific and university research into new energy technologies, and 58 percent would back a candidate promising to expand natural gas development.”
  • And while renewable and “green” incentives have been pilloried by some candidates this election, the poll finds a majority support them. 58 percent of respondents said “they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports additional financial incentives for companies engaged in renewable technologies.” But only 36 percent of respondents thought that renewable energy would lead to more job creation.

The poll also found increased support for smart meters and hybrid vehicles.

This is the third energy poll conducted by the Institute since they began polling last year. You can read more over at the UT Energy Poll.

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