Last week’s winter storms remind Americans they might not be prepared for the next one

February 23, 2021, 6:20 PM UTC

Last week’s winter storm, and the suffering of those Texans who lost their electricity, heat, food, and water and were left with damaged homes, reminded many Americans (50%) that they themselves might not be prepared for a similar power outage. Even more in the Economist/YouGov poll were sure that their state would not be prepared (58%).  

More than half of those living in rural areas (54%) said they would be at least somewhat prepared personally, while fewer than half living in urban areas (38%) or the suburbs (41%) say they are. Still, two in five rural residents (40%) also acknowledge a lack of preparedness for this type of emergency.

Doubt about their state’s level of preparedness crosses all regions and party lines. Around three in ten Republicans (27%) and Democrats (29%) say their state is prepared for widespread power outages. 

As Texas demonstrated, energy grids can fail. Americans today may have become more open to the use of renewable fuels now, and majorities want greater use of wind (61%) and solar power (68%). Nearly half the overall public (47%) wants to reduce the use of oil, including nearly a quarter of Republicans (22%).   

Opinion has not changed much, however, when it comes to overall opinion about the role of climate change in causing recent severe weather, including more and more intense hurricanes, wildfires, and winter storms. In this poll, as in previous polls, about half (49%) attribute the increased intense weather to climate change, while more than one-third (36%) think it is the sort of thing that just happens from time to time.

As for climate change itself, half the public (49%) believe the world is becoming warmer due to human activity, one in five (19%) think human activity has little or nothing to do with climate change, and 14% disagree that the world is becoming warmer.  

Climate Change Issues

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between February 19 - 22, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.7% for the overall sample 

Image: Getty