Climate Change and Health Care: A Tale of Two Polls

As health care reform remains the No. 1 item on Washington’s agenda, the brewing Senate battle over climate change legislation — which has the potential to dramatically reshape transportation policy — is remaining in the background.

19climate_600.jpgThe audience at a Houston rally against Congress’ climate bill, staged by the oil industry. (Photo: NYT)

Looking at two national polls released in recent days, however, suggests that the White House may be winning the fight that it’s expending less political capital on waging.

The latest pulse-taking on health care, released yesterday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, found 36 percent opposed to the Obama administration’s health care plans and 42 percent opposed.

Allies of the White House have questioned some of the wording used in the survey, which also revealed that major misconceptions about the health bill are winning credence.

But the wording was anything but misleading in a Zogby poll released last week and commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation. The survey found 71 percent of likely voters in favor of the climate bill passed by the House in June, and 54 percent proactively identifying themselves with the following statement (h/t Sightline):

I think the Senate should take action because I believe we need a new energy plan right now that invests in American, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, in order to create clean energy jobs, address global warming and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Imagine if the administration had decided to elevate climate change to the prime position in the national dialogue now held by health care. Would the prospects for substantive action in Congress be any brighter?

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