American Climate Perspectives Survey 2020, Vol. VI

Biden and Trump Voters Alike Want the New Administration to Prioritize Climate Solutions

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For the first time in history, climate change emerged as a top voting issue in a Presidential election. Going into the election, 71% of Americans agreed that we need to elect leaders that will prioritize climate change. Climate was featured in the debates, and the winning Biden-Harris ticket campaigned on the issue, subsequently announcing climate change as one of their four top priorities, alongside COVID-19, economic recovery, and racial equity.

Just two days after Biden won the presidency, ecoAmerica set out to find if the campaign changed attitudes, and exactly where climate fit amongst Americans’ priorities. Findings show a slight increase in climate concern since before the election and that Americans want climate solutions prioritized, not far behind top issues like the economy and healthcare that received overwhelming support from all parties.


74% of Americans Want Biden to Prioritize Climate

Findings show that the majority of Americans think climate should be a priority and are confident President-elect Biden will take action. Nearly 3/4 of Americans (74%) think that climate should be a priority for the Biden Administration, with 31% believing it should be a top priority. Amongst Biden voters, a very large majority, 92%, said climate should be a priority. Even amongst Trump voters, almost half (47%) agreed.

Climate Change Amidst Other Issues

When asked what level of priority seven top issues should be for the Biden Administration, 93% of Americans said the economy and jobs should be a top or important priority, 89% said healthcare, 88% said the coronavirus response, 88% said national security, 80% said racial justice and equity, 78% said immigration, and 74% said climate change. Democrats place climate change as a top four issue (91%), whereas Republicans rate it as seventh (53%). ecoAmerica finds Independents between the two, with 77% indicating climate should be a top or important priority.

Climate change, however, is strongly linked to all of the other priority issues. Climate is tied to the economy through both the economic toll of extreme storms and weather events — and the economic and job benefits of the current rapid transition to clean energy and other green economy jobs. Healthcare impacts of climate change burden American’s mental and physical health, and climate change is a racial justice issue as climate impacts disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Immigration is a climate issue as regions of the world become unlivable, as well as a national security issue, when extreme weather impacts global tensions. Finally, in light of COVID-19, scientists warn of a changing climate’s effect on emerging diseases.

The Biden Administration and the 117th Congress have an opportunity to address a multitude of issues, to multi-solve, through equitable climate solutions.

Democrats Confident in Biden, Others Not So Much

Amongst all the competing priorities, will climate win out? Biden campaigned on a climate platform, and places it as one of his top four priorities. 74% of Americans across the political spectrum agree with this positioning, but slightly less, 71%, believe that he will act accordingly. Among Democrats, the vast majority think that Biden should (91%) and that he will (90%) make climate solutions a priority. And while over half (53%) of Republicans think Biden should prioritize climate change, only 47% think he will.

So, while a majority of Americans want Biden to prioritize climate change, climate solution advocates will need to build political support and pressure to ensure his intentions match outcomes.

Full data is available in the accompanying toplines.

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ecoAmerica designed and administered this survey, which was conducted online November 9, 2020 using Survey Monkey. The survey yielded a total of 1,078 complete adult responses. The sample was drawn from an online panel and the respondents were screened to ensure that they were over the age of 18. The margin of error for the sample is +/-3%. In interpreting the survey results, it is important to note that all sample surveys are subject to possible sampling error. Thus, the results of a survey may differ from the results that would be obtained if the entire population was interviewed. The size of the sampling error depends upon both the total number of respondents in the survey and the percentage distribution of the responses to a particular question. For example, if 50% of the respondents in a sample of 1,078 respondents answered, “Yes” to a particular question, we can be 95% confident that the true percentage would fall within 3 points, or range from 47% to 53%.

Suggested Citation

Speiser, M., Hill, A. (November, 2020). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2020. Biden and Trump Voters Alike Want the New Administration to Prioritize Climate. ecoAmerica. Washington, DC.

© 2020 ecoAmerica.  The contents of this report may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ecoAmerica does not hold a formal position on nuclear energy.

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