Can Politicians Gain Ground by Endorsing Green Policies? [Study]

A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University’s Department of Communication and Institute for Research in the Social Sciences asserts that voters are more likely to cast their vote for a political candidate who advocates green-friendly practices.

Democratic and Independent voters were presented with a hypothetical candidate running for the United States Senate. When the candidate endorsed green statements regarding climate change, votes were gained. When the candidate made a statement expressing skepticism about global warming, votes were lost in comparison to a scenario in which the candidate did not make any statements, positive or negative, about green issues. With Republican voters, the hypothetical candidate’s position did not influence the votes. Voters in all categories of this study, which was conducted by telephone survey, were also presented with the candidate’s stance on other issues.

The results of the study suggest that Republican candidates can gain the votes of Independent and Democratic voters without losing a significant number of Republican voters by endorsing green-friendly statements during the campaign.

Expert Jon Krosnick asserts that the policy issue of climate change does not have a major influence over voters. Only those voters who consider green issues to be of massive importance are swayed by emphasis on climate change policy, which means that discussion of climate change is unlikely to heavily influence voters across the board.

Survey Results

When presented with a hypothetical candidate taking a green-friendly position, 77% of all participants said they would vote for the candidate. Sixty-five percent said they would vote for the candidate who did not give any statements regarding climate or green issues. Only 48% of participants said they would vote for the hypothetical candidate making non-green statements.

There were differences among voters from different parties.

Democrats

  • 74% vote for the green-friendly candidate
  • 53% vote for a candidate who did not mention green issues
  • 37% vote for a candidate expressing skepticism about global warming

Independents

  • 79% vote for the green-friendly candidate
  • 63% vote for a candidate who did not mention green issues
  • 44% vote for a candidate expressing skepticism about global warming

Republicans

  • 78% vote for the green-friendly candidate
  • 83% vote for a candidate who did not mention green issues
  • 76% vote for a candidate expressing skepticism about global warming

Benefits of Being Green

The results indicate that candidates from either major party could gain votes by endorsing a green-friendly stance during the campaign. Republicans in particular could benefit from this tactic. However, there are some extensions that should be made to the current study before jumping to conclusions about the political climate. First and foremost, the study did not factor in the influence of other issues on a voter’s decision. Other issues were presented by the hypothetical candidate, but those issues were not fully examined. Additionally, many adult Americans do not vote, and it was not determined whether or not the participants responding to the survey were actually active voters.

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