Clean Energy Program | Report

Moving Clean Energy to the Center: Insights from Swing Voters in the Midwest and South

by Joshua Freed, Matt Bennett, Al Quinlan and Andrew Baumann

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With the collapse of cap-and-trade, the politicization of climate change, and the controversy around Solyndra, conventional wisdom is that there’s no viable public path to move the United States to clean energy. The view in political circles is that clean energy advocates can only play defense and serious energy reform is dead. However, Third Way’s new focus groups show that this conventional wisdom is wrong.

Our groups, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in Ohio and North Carolina, found that even swing voters in traditional energy states want to get America running on clean energy. This report provides the outline for a new path to build support for clean energy. Including:

  • Focusing on long-term economic growth potential and the consequences of inaction works. Selling near-term job creation doesn’t.
  • Tapping into concerns about pollution and the strong desire to eliminate coal works. Focusing simply on climate change doesn’t.
  • Describing a vision of government as a facilitator for the private sector works. Direct spending by government doesn’t.

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The focus group participants were asked to write two postcards to express their feeling about two scenarios: one in which our nation strongly embraced and pursued clean energy technologies; another in which we did not. We hope you’ll take a look at some of these postcards below. These images are free for re-use with attribution. You can find JPGs on Flickr.