Economy And Energy, With Just 71% Rating The Environment As Important At All

May 31, 2012, 2:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/26/2012) Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign engaged on the energy front in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. The absence of pain at the pump, however, requires Romney to make the issue about more: Pain at the plug, and the cost of electric energy. That means an assault on President Obama’s environmental agency (the Environmental Protection Agency) and its efforts to impose regulations on fossil-fuel-burning electric plants.

Romney’s advantage is that Americans are currently so overwhelmingly more concerned about the economy than the environment. Essentially every American (96%) says the economy is important. Other issues that are important to more Americans than the environment include: Social Security, health care, taxes, education, the budget deficit, Medicare, terrorism, immigration and the Afghanistan War before you get to the Americans (71%) who say the environment is important. Below that in importance are only the Iraq War, abortion and gay rights.

Rating the environment an important issue are percentages significantly in excess of 80% only among liberals (89%) and Democrats (87%). Among the groups where fewer than two-in-three rate the environment important are Independents (65%), people age 18-29 (64%), all men (64%), Midwesterners (61%), as well as Republicans (56%) and conservatives (48%).

There is no evidence that the environment is important to a larger proportion of the best-educated or most well-off. The environment is no more important among those with a 4-year college degree (69%) than it is to those with only some college (70%) or those with no college experience (73%). Similarly, those with the highest incomes at $100,000 or more (69%) are not significantly more likely than those earning $40,000-$100,00 (66%) or those earning under $40,000 (72%) to rate the environment as an issue they consider at all important.

Only 3% rate the environment the most important issue to them personally; 13 times that number are in the proportion (39%) who rate the economy the most important issue.

In late May, the House Republican leadership-run House Energy Action Team (HEAT) travelled to telegenic locales to make the case for TV news crews that Obama’s EPA is hurting the economy.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association