Our friends at the American Conservation Coalition (ACC) and the Conservative Energy Network (CEN) just released the results of their joint energy polling on 18- to 24-year-old voters, and they are quite compelling.
The key takeaways are that younger members of the millennial generation favor free markets, greater energy choice, and cleaner energy sources by wide majorities. This support extends well beyond party lines; young conservatives have repeatedly emphasized their desire for solutions that use markets and competition to accelerate clean energy.
Their overall findings are consistent with CRES Forum’s poll from last summer as well as a number of polls conducted by other organizations, so the message should be clear: Republican candidates have nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting policies favorable to clean energy development, particularly as they try to appeal to younger voters.
In fact, the poll found that younger voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes clean energy by a two-to-one margin. Republicans who are still not embracing clean energy are leaving votes on the table; the GOP cannot continue to wage today’s campaigns with yesterday’s messaging on energy.
“It’s important that young people understand that they can be conservative and favor clean energy— and support candidates who feel the same,” explained Mark Pischea, president of CEN.
Younger voters support changes to the energy market that would reduce regulations, end monopolies, and give people a choice of where they purchase electricity; 92 percent support an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Those positions all align with the free-market principles favored by conservatives.
What the poll didn’t cover is that the outcomes of supporting clean energy are also priorities for conservatives.
It’s about job creation—wind and solar are creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy. It’s also about saving money since clean energy costs are rapidly declining, which will help most household budgets in the long term. And national security is strengthened when we get more of our energy from home rather than from foreign countries. Investing in clean energy should be a no-brainer for any candidate for public office, but especially conservatives.
Fortunately, CRES has identified a number of Republicans who are champions of clean energy, and we know that increasing numbers of candidates in the GOP pipeline are supportive as well. This is an exciting time to be a conservative, and we believe we can lead the way on clean energy issues.