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Survey: Consumers split sharply along party lines in EPA-versus-California fight

By Analytics Team | September 24, 2019

Highlights:

  • Thirty-seven percent of Republicans agreed that California should be allowed to keep its current ability to set its own emissions standards, compared to 61 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Independents.

  • Car shoppers’ opinions on whether humans were causing climate change varied widely, depending on political affiliation; 87 percent of Democrats believed this to be true versus 39 percent of Republicans.

  • Sixty-one percent of Republicans agreed with the Trump Administration’s climate change policies, compared to nine percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Independents.


Full Story:

As the Trump Administration digs into its battle with California and various states over who can set emissions standards, consumers’ attitudes about the issue depend on which political party they’re registered with, according to a new poll by Autolist.com.

The site surveyed 1,100 current car shoppers in the third week of September. It found a deep ideological divide between registered Democrats and Republicans on how they felt about the EPA-versus-California battle.

The fight was sparked earlier this month when the Trump Administration stripped California of its long-standing ability to set its own pollution regulations and zero-emission vehicle requirements, leading the state and 22 others to file suit in federal court.

“Some degree of disagreement was to be expected along party lines,” said Chase Disher, analyst for Autolist. “But frankly we were surprised by how divisive this issue was among car shoppers.”

For instance, respondents were asked whether they believed California should be allowed to set its own standards.

Overall, an even 50 percent of all respondents said they believed California should have this ability, 29 percent said the believed California shouldn’t be allowed to set their own regulations and 21 percent were unsure.

But when split for political party affiliation, the results showed a clear divide along party lines.

Just 37 percent of Republicans agreed that California should be allowed to keep its current ability, compared to 61 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Independents.

The split between parties widened when Autolist asked shoppers how they felt about the current administration’s approach to climate change with regards to fuel economy standards and vehicle emissions.

Sixty-one percent of Republicans said they agreed with them, 16 percent disagreed with them, and 23 percent were unsure.

That contrasts sharply with Democrats: Just nine percent agreed with the Trump administration’s policies, 70 percent disagreed, and 21 percent were unsure.

Respondents as a whole across all parties were more mixed; 43 percent disagreed with the current administration’s policies on climate change, 26 percent agreed with them, and 31 percent were unsure.

But perhaps the biggest divide between car shoppers based on their politics was on the topic of humans’ role in climate change overall.

When respondents were asked whether they believe climate change is caused by human activity, an overwhelming majority of Democrats said yes -- 87 percent -- while six percent said no and seven percent were unsure.

Registered Republicans were more evenly split in their responses: 39 percent said yes, 37 percent said no and 24 percent were unsure.

Independents leaned towards Democrats on this question. Sixty-five percent said they believed climate change is caused by humans, 20 percent said they didn’t believe that was the case and 15 percent were unsure.

As a whole, all respondents’ answers to this question were similar to Independents’: 65 percent of all those surveyed said they believed humans were causing climate change, 19 percent said they did not believe that was the case and 16 percent were unsure.

Finally, shoppers’ views on whether Congress was doing enough about climate change was also split along party lines.

There was parity among shoppers who were registered Republicans: 22 percent said Congress was doing enough about the issue, 27 percent said Congress was doing too much because it wasn’t a serious issue, 23 percent said Congress wasn’t doing enough, and 28 percent were unsure.

Respondents who were registered Democrats were much more united. Seven percent said Congress was doing enough to address the issue, four percent said Congress was doing too much because it wasn’t a serious issue, 73 percent said Congress wasn’t doing enough, and 16 percent were unsure.

Ignoring party affiliation, 49 percent of all respondents said they believed Congress wasn’t doing enough to combat climate change, 26 percent were unsure, 13 percent said Congress was doing enough, and 12 percent said Congress was doing too much.

Autolist has additional data and insights on how residents feel about their state's role in the EPA-versus-California fight as well as age and brand-ownership relationships to the issue. It will publish these in the coming weeks.