Most Democratic and Republican voters polled in a recent survey said they support the Green New Deal movement in the U.S. Congress, which calls for 100% of the country's electricity to come from renewable resources within 10 years. But the proposal faces low odds of passage as legislation, with the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate and President Donald Trump unlikely to back a complete shift to renewable power.
The survey of registered voters was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. When polling respondents, the schools gave details of the New Green Deal, including its goals to upgrade energy and transportation infrastructure and transition away from fossil fuels. However, it did not mention the platform's supporters, who include progressive incoming Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.
The poll showed that 92% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans and 88% of Independents supported the deal. Within those brackets, 59% of Democrats said they strongly supported the proposal, followed by 36% of Independents and 15% of Republicans, while 33% of Democrats, 52% of Independents and 49% of Republicans "somewhat" supported the initiative.
Prior to the survey, 82% of respondents said they had heard "nothing at all" about the Green New Deal.
Yale and George Mason did not identify the party of the Green New Deal's supporters because they said research has shown people view policies more negatively when they are backed by politicians from opposing parties. Conversely, voters evaluate policies more favorably when they are endorsed by members of their own party.
Despite the broad support among voters, the Green New Deal faces an uphill battle in Congress. Democrats will have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 116th Congress that begins in early 2019 and have said addressing climate change will be one of their top priorities. But to date, only about 40 members of Congress have endorsed the Green New Deal.
Getting the country to use only renewable energy would be difficult in the near term since more than 80% of the country's power is currently being generated by the burning of coal, natural gas and the use of nuclear energy. In addition, Trump has worked to unwind many federal climate rules in the past two years and ease regulatory barriers for the coal industry, making him highly unlikely to back any policy that would move the power sector entirely away from fossil fuels.
On Dec. 11, the Senate Republican Policy Committee issued a policy paper that described the Green New Deal as a "crazy, expensive mess," citing one estimate that the plan could cost at least $7 trillion to implement.