Results Gathered During Current Pandemic

A solar powered car plugged in recharging at ReVison energy. Photo by Ramona du Houx

May 12, 2020

A strong majority of Maine voters support bipartisan action on clean energy and transportation to address climate change, even as the state faces the coronavirus pandemic, according to the results of a public opinion survey released today by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). The survey was conducted in March and April by the Portland-based research firm Critical Insights.

The survey shows that Maine voters are increasingly concerned about the impacts of global warming, and more than 80% support reducing pollution by expanding solar energy and creating a statewide public transportation network connecting cities and towns with bus service. Mainers want their elected officials to work across party lines to address global warming and support the ongoing work of the Maine Climate Council to develop a strong Climate Action Plan.

“This survey confirms that Mainers overwhelmingly support solar energy and investments in transportation solutions to help address the risks posed by climate change, and they want lawmakers to work across the aisle to advance these bipartisan solutions,” said NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim.

Growing Concerns about Negative Impacts of Global Warming

A solid majority (53%) of Maine voters think global warming already is harming Maine, a significant increase over the past two years.
A 2018 survey indicated that 44% of Maine voters felt that negative impacts of global warming already were happening.
Women (58%), Mainers 35 to 44 years old (68%), and Democrats (76%) are particularly concerned about the harm that global warming is currently having on Maine.
One in four Republicans believe global warming already is harming Maine. A majority of Republicans (52%) think global warming will harm Maine within 25 years, up from 43% in 2018.

Strong Support for Bipartisanship in Addressing Global Warming and Clean Energy

Eight out of ten voters in Maine believe it is important for the state’s lawmakers to work across party lines to address global warming and clean energy.
Six out of ten feel that bipartisanship is very important.
Support for bipartisanship in addressing global warming and promoting clean energy is strongest among female voters and those age 65 and older.

Support for Clean Energy and Transportation Policy Proposals:

  • 86% support development of solar in their community;
  • 84% support the laws passed by the Legislature in 2019 to increase the use of solar power in Maine homes, businesses, and municipalities;
  • 82% support development at the municipal level of solar farms to provide energy for local government and schools;
  • 81% support a statewide public transportation system connecting Maine’s cities and towns with bus service;
  • 77% support making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • 72% support locating housing, workplaces, and services closer together to facilitate reduced driving;
  • 70% support increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • 69% support increasing the number of electric vehicles in Maine
Offshore wind turbines in Scotland. Maine has this potential with floating offshore wind turbines that would be out of site and sound of the land. The technology was invented at the University of Maine AEWC laboratory.

Strong majorities of voters support a variety of policy proposals to promote clean energy and transportation. Specifically, the survey shows that:

Support for the Maine Climate Council Even During Pandemic

Three out of four (76%) Maine voters believe the work of the Maine Climate Council should be a priority, with half (53%) indicating it should be a high or very high priority.
Support from Maine voters is similar in both of Maine’s Congressional Districts, with 54% in CD1 and 51% in CD2 stating that the work of the Maine Climate Council is a high or very high priority.

The Maine Climate Council was established in 2019 to develop a new Climate Action Plan for Maine by December 2020. The survey results were gathered in late March when a shelter in place order already was in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The survey described the role of the Maine Climate Council and stated: “We understand that many parts of daily life are disrupted at the moment, and priorities may temporarily have to shift. But based on anything you know, under normal circumstances, how much of a priority would you consider the work of the Maine Climate Council to be for the state?”

Spring 2020 Survey Additional Resources and Background

The survey was conducted by Critical Insights in March and April 2020. Data was gathered from 600 interviews with a statistically representative cross-section of self-reported registered voters, via both landline and mobile phone. The results have an associated margin of error of ±3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.