For a brief, shining moment, Americans were largely united in their support of a Green New Deal. When the policy was first announced, Americans didn’t know a lot about it but they generally liked the sound of transitioning to 100 percent clean energy through a massive, New Deal-style jobs program.
New polling results from Yale and George Mason universities show that Republican lawmakers and Fox News have fractured support for the Green New Deal along predictable party lines. Support remains relatively high among Democrats and moderate Republicans, but conservative Republican opinion has dropped like a stone. That’s particularly true for conservatives who have heard a lot about the Green New Deal. Turns out, months of relentless screeching about cheeseburgers and socialism is an effective tactic for ruining something. But it’s also not all bad news.
The Green New Deal was introduced in February by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. The resolution calls for remaking American life in response to climate change, and includes a series of goals to cut emissions to net-zero while also providing good paying union jobs, healthcare, and other benefits that would help ensure no Americans get left behind in the transition to a clean energy economy.
On the whole, Americans have shown support for the Green New Deal and many of the individual components like Medicare for All. In December—when the concept of the Green New Deal first gained traction—the Yale and George Mason groups found that, even if most hadn’t heard of it initially, 81 percent of Americans polled supported a Green New Deal after its core tenants were explained. That includes 64 percent of Republican respondents.
The new results compare that December poll to one done in April. The April poll shows more people have heard about the Green New Deal and Democrats remaining highly supportive of the resolution and its goals. Ninety-six percent of liberal Democrats support it as do 88 percent of moderate Democrats. But support is dropping away on the conservative side. At 64 percent, a majority of moderate Republicans still support it. But among conservative Republicans, support is down to just 32 percent, a 27 percentage point drop compared to December.
What’s even more jarring is how much Fox News has influenced its viewers, which talks about the policy more than MSNBC and CNN combined according to an analysis by progressive nonprofit Media Matters. Among Republicans who watch the channel more than once a week, support sits at just 22 percent. And Republicans who have heard a lot about the Green New Deal—ostensibly via Fox News and conservative talk radio—show an even higher degree of polarization.
Here’s what the poll had to say (emphasis added):
We also find a substantial interaction between awareness, support, and political party in our April survey data. Democrats who have heard “a lot” about the Green New Deal are 7 percentage points more supportive of the proposal than are Democrats who have heard “nothing at all” (96% vs. 89%, respectively). Republicans who have heard “a lot” about the Green New Deal are 81 percentage points less supportive of the proposal than are Republicans who have heard “nothing at all” (85% vs. 4%, respectively).
The results show Fox News and Republican lawmakers relentlessly attacking the resolution has been a great political strategy. The report helpfully notes, though that “frequent Fox News viewers constitute only 35% of Republican registered voters.” In other words, there’s a lot of Americans still out there who support the policy even if they keep electing people who either don’t or refuse to put forward any credible alternatives.