How Democrats and Republicans view energy sources differently

Linley SandersData Journalist
January 03, 2023, 2:28 PM GMT+0

In December, the Department of Energy announced that U.S. scientists have successfully produced a fusion reaction that creates more energy than it consumes — a step toward zero-carbon nuclear fusion energy. A recent YouGov poll of American attitudes toward 17 energy sources revealed that U.S. adult citizens generally have a positive view of most energy sources that the U.S. invests in, including nuclear fusion energy. Democrats and Republicans have very different views on several major types of energy.

The energy gain technology is viewed positively by a margin of 45% to 20% — though 35% of Americans have no opinion of it. Several sources of renewable energy are viewed even more favorably by Americans, including solar power (74%), hydropower (66%), wind power (65%), and geothermal energy (55%). A majority of Americans also have a positive view of natural gas (60%) — a fossil fuel that is one of the United States' primary sources. The only energy source asked about that more Americans view unfavorably than favorably is coal (40% have a favorable opinion, 43% have an unfavorable one).

Democrats and Republicans have similarly positive views toward a few sources of energy — including fuel cell energy, biofuels, renewable energy generally, and geothermal energy — but there are vast disagreements between the parties on their views of non-renewable energy. Republicans are much more likely to have a net positive view — a larger share viewing favorably than unfavorably — of oil, coal, and fossil fuel energy compared to Democrats.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to have positive views of certain renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. Democrats have a +72 net favorable score toward wind power — meaning they are 72 percentage points more likely to see it positively than to see it negatively — compared to +17 for Republicans. When it comes to solar power, Democrats are +79, compared to +42 for Republicans.

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted on December 14 - 16, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Adobe Stock (Li Ding)