The National research firm Public Opinion Strategies recently conducted a survey of 500 likely Oregon voters to assess views on the issue of climate change and to gauge support for the basic principles of policy measures like the proposed cap-and-trade system in the Lieberman-Warner Act (a.k.a. the Climate Security Act — legislation that was recently defeated last week in the U.S. Senate, but marked a step forward on national climate policy.) The survey, which presents arguments for and against cap-and-trade, clearly indicates that Oregon voters support this kind of climate legislation (72 percent). Beyond that, 73 percent deem it our “moral obligation” and “duty as Americans” to reduce global warming pollution.

The poll, commissioned by the Nature Conservancy, found that global warming is the most frequently named environmental concern of Oregon voters, and more than four in five say it is a serious problem. Perhaps more importantly, 83 percent of Oregon voters say they’re ready to make some changes (including personal sacrifices) to fight climate change. And 81 percent say they would be willing to pay higher energy prices every month to reduce global warming pollution produced by power plants (the single greatest proportion — 21 percent — choose the top of the price range: $45 per month).

And naming their price to act on climate change was only slightly affected by income levels for middle class Oregonians: 73 percent of those earning under $40,000 in household income annually say they would be willing to pay more each month, as do 86 percent of those earning between $40,000 and $80,000, and 84 percent of those earning over $80,000.

Support for climate policy is broad-based and cuts across party lines, county lines, and income and education levels:

  • 56 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats indicate they would ask their representatives to support the proposal;
  • Over two-thirds of voters in every single Congressional district in Oregon say to support the proposal;
  • Over two-thirds of every income group and at every education level say to support it;
  • More than six-in-ten hunters (62 percent) and anglers/fishers (67 percent) say to support it;
  • 63 percent of religious conservatives say to support it; and
  • Voters in every type of community — including fully 71 percent of rural voters — say they would tell their Congressional representatives to support this legislation.

At a time when everybody’s talking about the economy and crippling effects of high gas prices, Oregonians agree (76 percent) that global warming is so urgent a problem that even in these difficult economic times, we should take action now. (Conversely, 72 percent reject the statement “usually I would support this kind of a proposal, but in our current economic times, I cannot get behind these changes.”) Over three-quarters agree (77 percent) that solving the problem now will cost less than if we wait.

Note: Public Opinion Strategies is a survey research company specializing in corporate and public policy research with offices in Washington, Denver & Los Angeles. The firm is known for its work with conservative clients. Interviews were collected May 13-15, 2008. The margin of error associated with a sample of this type is + 4.38 percent. Interviews were proportionally distributed and demographically representative of the electorate. Numbers may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding. Survey was commissioned by The Nature Conservancy.