Poll shows strong bipartisan support for solar

More than 90% of voters believe solar energy is important for the United States, according to a new survey done for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The annual survey also shows that majorities support federal subsidies and other policies for clean energy sources.

The survey, conducted by independent polling firm Hart Research Associates, showed for the fifth consecutive year that Americans maintain a very favorable view of solar energy and government efforts to encourage the industry’s growth. Strong support cuts across the political divide, with Republicans only slightly less favorably inclined toward solar energy than Democrats and independents.

That strong support among all three groups extends to the thorny issue of government subsidies for not just solar, but other renewable technologies.

From Sept. 4 to 9, 2012, Hart Research undertook an online national survey of 1,206 registered voters on behalf of SEIA, including an oversample of swing voters (resulting in 762 swing voter interviews).  The swing voter sample included only those respondents who did not indicate a strong or consistent partisan voting history. The margin of error for the full sample is ±2.8 percentage points. 

A nearly unanimous 92% of voters believe it is very important (58%) or somewhat important (34%) for the U.S. to develop and use solar power, including 93% of swing voters. Democrats and independents are nearly uniform in their agreement (98% and 95% important, respectively), and 84% of Republicans also agree.

“American voters have spoken loud and clear – they love solar and they want more of it. Republicans, independents, and Democrats are unified in calling on Congress to increase our use of solar energy in America,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a statement.

Energy issues are deemed very important in the survey sample, ahead of the environment and only slightly behind government spending and Medicare reform.

Of poll respondents, 74% said that energy is one of the most important (27%) or very important (47%) issues as they approach the election. This exceeds environmental concerns, (55%) and trails government spending (90%) and Medicare reform (81%).

Fully 85% of voters have a very favorable (60%) or somewhat favorable (25%) view of solar energy, including 87% of swing voters.  This places solar ahead of wind power (82%), hydropower (76%), natural gas (71%), geothermal (62%), nuclear power (43%), oil (42%), and coal (32%).

That rating translates to strong support for tax credits and financial incentives.  Respondents were given eight different forms of energy that the federal government should encourage (in addition to the option of saying none), 64% of voters, including 67% of swing voters, say that solar should be on that list (the next highest is wind power at 57%). 

Fully seven in 10 (70%) voters, including 72% of swing voters, say the federal government should be doing more (16% favor continuing its current policies and 14% prefer to see the government doing less).