That Fake Poll on the Green New Deal
Over 80 percent of American voters support the Green New Deal, or so claim its backers citing a recent survey by a group of academic pollsters. Furthermore, this public endorsement is supposedly bipartisan, with 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans indicating that they either strongly or somewhat support the Far Left package to reshape the entire American economy around “green energy” in the course of the next decade.
..the survey was conducted by a team of professors at George Mason University in Virginia and Yale University … it was essentially a “push poll” designed to bias respondents in favor of the proposition… Rather than asking voters directly about the GND, the pollsters first presented them with a glowing … synopsis that touted the proposition’s fantastical claims:
Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.
…It extols the GND promises of a “green energy” conversion on a scientifically impossible 10-year timeline… promises an abundance of jobs and economic growth … It makes no mention of the proposal’s extremist calls to phase out air travel in favor of trains, or to subject every building in America to costly renovation and reconstruction in order to meet new energy-efficiency rules. And it says not a word about the extreme price tag of the entire package, which… may reach as high as $93 trillion when all is said and done.
Instead, all of the pitfalls of the GND are conveniently brushed aside while all of its promised benefits, no matter how unrealistic or expensive, are presented to the survey’s respondents as if they were neutral and factual truths.
…As a relatively new proposition, the details of the GND are still unfamiliar to the vast majority of Americans. The pollsters confirmed this finding in a separate question that showed 83 percent of respondents knew “nothing at all” about the program’s details. After supplying them with an overly rosy and biased synopsis of those details, they unsurprisingly found large majorities in favor. Loaded opinion polling of this type is a commonly encountered dirty trick in partisan political campaigns… these tactics violate standard practices in survey design and question construction.
Unfortunately, the pollsters in this case are not political campaign consultants — they’re university professors at research institutes specialising in “climate change communication.” Given the way that they skewed their poll results toward the GND with biased and loaded questioning, it’s reasonable to ask whether their research output crossed the ethical line separating scholarship from politically motivated advocacy.
It’s not only reasonable to ask, it’s extremely easy to answer. Yes it did. So when the Hill reports that:
More than 80 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal proposal being pushed by progressional Democratic lawmakers, a new poll found.
By not pointing out that 97% of respondents knew “nothing at all” or only “a little” about it (apart from the information provided by the pollsters) the Hill is pushing fake news. Likewise the Guardian, with an article titled: “The Green New Deal has reignited the climate debate – and voters support it”
The survey is the subject of a note at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication by Gustafson, Rosenthal, Leiserowitz, Maibach, Kotcher, Bellew, and Goldberg
Gustafson is engaged in developing more effective strategies for communicating science topics to the public at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
Rosenthal is a research methodologist at YPCCC, with a particular focus on survey methodology
Leiserowitz is Director of the YPCCC and an expert on public opinion
Maibach is Professor at George Mason University, and the Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication
Kotcher[‘s] research broadly focuses on science, environmental, and risk communication through the use of surveys, experiments, and quantitative content analysis.
Belle specializes in social psychology, survey research, and data analysis.
Goldberg is an expert in the social psychological subfields of attitudes and persuasion, motivated reasoning, and ideology.
None of them has any qualifications in climate science, economics, political science, or anything else which would enable them to judge the contents of the Green New Deal, or to compose the explanatory paragraph which provided the sole information available to the 82% of respondents who had never heard of it. However, they are all experts on survey research methods, and at least one has worked in commercial opinion research. So they must know that a survey like that, presented like that, in the commercial sphere, would result in them losing their reputations and maybe their jobs. In the real world, they would be denounced as charlatans. But climate change communication research is not in the real world. Nor, apparently, is one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
Yale University is the official polling company for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid for the Democratic nomination for the 2024 presidential election.
[A note on democracy: A politician of “left” or “right” in France or Britain, reading the headline results of the Yale research, would no doubt do a Cameron and immediately adopt the Green New Deal as part of their programme. Trump and the Republicans, on the other hand, have gone to town ridiculing it in order to sow dissension among their Democrat opponents. No doubt a lifetime spent screwing the people you’re doing a deal with sharpens your bullshit detector. Maybe we could hire Trump to negotiate Brexit for us? Gaia Bless America.]