Civitas Poll: Voters: “Cap and What?”

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Raleigh, N.C. – Only 13 percent of voters could identify “Cap and Trade” as legislation that will impact the environment or energy policy according to a new poll released today by the Civitas Institute.  Nearly two-thirds of voters polled had no idea, if enacted, what the legislation would do.

According to the live caller poll of 600 likely voters, 64 percent of voters said they are not sure what someone is talking about when discussing “cap and trade” proposals.  Fifteen percent of voters thought it was somehow foreign-trade related.  

As for the 13 percent of voters who actually were informed about the contents of the legislation, 7 percent had a negative opinion of the bill saying it would mean higher taxes on energy, while only 6 percent said it would help protect the environment.

“Despite heavy media coverage and special interest groups pushing for ‘green’ initiatives, most voters in North Carolina are clueless as to what cap and trade means or how it would affect them,” said Civitas Institute Senior Legislative Analyst Chris Hayes.  

Unaffiliated voters were actually more informed about the issue than members of either party.  Seventeen percent of unaffiliateds were able to identify it as an environment or energy issue, while only 14 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats correctly identified the legislation.

“This is another example of government policy and rhetoric that leaves constituents uninformed as to what is really inside a piece of legislation,” added Hayes.  “Voters need much more education on this important issue before it is debated in Congress.”

The cap-and-trade system aims to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases by setting a cap on how much pollution is acceptable in a given region.  Companies are issued credits, based on their size and industry, which allows them to produce a set amount of pollution.  If unused, the credits can be sold or traded to other companies.  Federal legislation to enact cap and trade was recently abandoned as the bill was unable to garner adequate support in the Senate.

The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina.  For more information on Civitas polling see

Full text of questions:
When someone talks about “cap and trade” proposals, what do you think they are talking about?

Help protect environment – 6%
Will mean high taxes/energy – 7%
Involves import/export – 5%
Trade with other nations – 10%
Anti-business – 1%
Energy issue – 2%
Oppose cap/trade – 1%
Stock market – 1%
Oil well problem/BP – 1%
Sending jobs overseas    – 1%
Other – 1%
Not sure – 64%

Click here for full results and crosstabs.

This poll of 600 likely general election voters in North Carolina was conducted July 19-21, 2010 by Tel Opinion Research of Alexandria, Virginia. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters we interviewed had to have voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.

The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.

This article was posted in Press Releases by Katie Trout on August 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM.

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