The Solar Energy Industries Association commissioned a poll of American voters and — guess what? — American voters like solar!
The industry advocacy organization released the results of its poll today for an obvious reason: to argue that voters support government investment in solar energy, which they do, generally, and to encourage Congress to enact policies supporting solar. Solar solar solar, we want solar!
Before we undermine the findings — which we will — let’s look at the findings.
Energy is an important issue!
Everyone loves solar!
There were other findings, too, which are about solar and how solar is great. And I’ll jump in here to note: It is! It is great! But SEIA doesn’t really help itself (or the industry it represents) here.
You can see the poll questions here. There are two important things that should jump out, given the glowing findings above.
First: The claim that energy is an important issue. I mean, look! Right there, it’s one of the top five issues presented!
Out of five.
So, energy — defined very, very, very broadly — is the fourth-most important of five issues, not counting jobs and the economy. Yes, 74 percent of people say it’s very important, but even higher percentages of people say other issues are very important. Only poor “environment” ranks as less important.
Second: The claim that solar sees bipartisan support. Here’s how the pollster determined what political party a respondent favored:
Twenty percent of voters polled always vote Republican; another 15 percent “vote for Republicans a little more often than for Democrats.” That seems like a pretty big difference in ideology. If Republican-leaning voters make up 43 percent of all of the “Republicans” polled, and if 75 percent of those “Republicans” said they’re at least “somewhat favorable” to solar, the extent to which solar is embraced by the right is open to question. It’s possible that 32 percent of people who always vote Republican are somewhat favorable to solar — and 68 percent aren’t favorable at all. That seems a bit less bipartisan.
But that doesn’t really matter. This poll has two aims: to keep people enthusiastic about solar and to give elected officials a data point that can be buried in reports about financing solar. This survey is about creating political cover, not about shifting opinion.
In which case: mission likely accomplished.