The Topline: Warm Reception Likely for Obama Climate Plan

topline logo This week the Obama administration rolled out its plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants, with a goal of reducing emissions by 32 percent by 2030. If past polling on the issue is any guide, the plan is likely to be popular with voters.

Back in June 2014, when Obama first floated the idea, several news outlets found support for restricting emissions, generally and from power plants specifically. ABC and the Washington Post found 70 percent of Americans favor regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, both at the federal and state level, similar to the NBC / Wall Street Journal results. Three-fifths in that poll (63 percent) favored action to reduce emissions even if it raised their energy bills $20 a month. And Bloomberg found that, by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans would be willing to pay more to combat climate change.

These are all promising numbers for the administration, but a key question with any policy polling is how how voters rank the issue compared to others. National polling, by Pew and Gallup, finds climate change near the bottom of voters’ priority lists. Our polling here in Massachusetts is no different. Climate change has yet to break into the top tier of policy issues for voters. Voters will support action, but they won’t demand it.




Even among environmental priorities, climate change is 13 out of 15 in an AP/NORC poll.


AP-NORC graph

That last finding may explain why the Obama administration is selling their new regulations by talking about public health and its causes, like water and air pollution, as much as global temperatures. For many Americans, climate change remains a far-off problem that will affect future generations, although the number that think climate change is happening now is growing. Nonetheless, talking about air pollution and asthma rates among children puts a human face on what could otherwise be seen as a future threat.

Bostonians on Boston 2024, in a very few words

As we noted in our Boston2024 postmortem, public opinion played a pivotal role in the USOC’s decision to drop the bid, and in the debate through the first half of the year. But now that Boston 2024 has come and gone, what do folks in Massachusetts think of what just happened?

To get a rough sense, we conducted an experiment using a Google Consumer Survey, asking Massachusetts residents for a brief comment on the bid. You may have come across one of these surveys as you surf the web. They will pop up on some websites, asking a question and requiring a response before you can proceed to view your content.

The results landed somewhere between a proper poll and Shirley Leung’s selection of positive and negative comments in lieu of a column today. The responses varied greatly in quality. Some respondents took the time to write a sentence or two, providing some real insight. Most only typed in a word to get through to their webpage. Some of these were interesting or helpful; others were too vague to be of much insight, and some were true non-sequiturs.

Here’s a word cloud of the answers we got that were responsive to the question:

Google Survey Word Cloud

Overall, 43 percent of respondents faulted the process around the bid, twice as many as those who thought it was positive (21 percent). Another 11 percent didn’t care or said they didn’t know enough to respond. The final 23 percent gave responses that weren’t clearly positive or negative -- answers like “no” and “surprising” and “over.”

Critics of the bid process didn’t hold back, calling it “terrible,” “a disaster,” “futile,” “poorly planned,” and “a complete mess,” among other things. Positive comments tend to be a little less expansive; “good” was the most common response overall, which is why it pops out in the word cloud.

Some more detailed comments praised the process, but also the the final decision to withdraw the bid. “A good thorough process and thoughtful decision to withdraw.” Others were less charitable: “I'm glad they ultimately made the smart choice. It's absurd that it was even considered.”

Criminal Justice Review Coming to Massachusetts

Last week, Massachusetts’ top lawmakers and judge invited the Department of Justice and the Pew Center for the States to review the state’s criminal justice system. We polled Massachusetts residents about criminal justice issues in early 2014 and found a strong a desire to reform some aspects of the system. Here’s MPG President Steve Koczela summarizing the findings:



2016 GOP-palooza

The game of musical podiums has stopped. Fox News has announced the top ten for its GOP Primary Debate Thursday night. Saving you a click:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Jeb Bush
  3. Scott Walker
  4. Mike Huckabee
  5. Ben Carson
  6. Ted Cruz
  7. Rand Paul
  8. Marco Rubio
  9. Chris Christie
  10. John Kasich

Christie and Kasich avoided relegation to the non-primetime debate. Rick Perry, in 11th place in the average of national polls, just missed the cut. He will be in the earlier, so-called “happy hour debate,” will take place on the same stage as the primetime event, both in Cleveland.

Granite State Still Feeling the Bern

A new WMUR poll finds Bernie Sanders trailing Hillary Clinton, 36 percent to 42 percent, in New Hampshire. This prompted Fox News to proclaim the race a “statistical tie.” That’s a silly term, but yes, the race is close.

Despite a clear Clinton dip and Sanders surge, Clinton continues to lead all Democratic candidates by a wide margin nationally and in states that do not border Vermont.

Phillip Bump provides some useful context over at The Fix.

Bidening his Time

Nate Silver looks at the prospects of Joe Biden’s “Schroedinger’s Cat” campaign for President.

And if you don’t get that reference, you can ask Silver about it during his Reddit AMA at 3:30 today.

Meanwhile, Vox offers the cases for and against a Biden run.

And for laughs

The merry pranksters at Public Policy Polling find that “Deez Nuts” polls at 8 percent against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Minnesota.

Lest you think PPP came up with that themselves, “Deez Nuts for President 2016” is officially registered with the Federal Elections Commission. He’s not the only one.

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Congrats to MPG President Steve Koczela, who has been named an Associate Editor for the Statistical Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS). Here’s the official announcement:

The Statistical Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics is adding data fabrication in survey research as a key topic area. The IAOS journal has added Steve Koczela as an Associate Editor to focus exclusively on data fabrication. As a part of this emphasis, the journal invites papers on issues related to survey data fabrication.

Koczela, along with IAOS editor-in-chief Fritz Scheuren, are in the midst of a year-long series of conferences, panel discussions, journal articles, and research on data fabrication. Sessions have been held in Boston, MA and Washington DC, with another slated for Baltimore at the Total Survey Error conference. These sessions and articles, along with the recent high profile case of survey data fabrication, have demonstrated the need for the survey research community to refocus on addressing survey data fabrication.

The MPG Nerd Alert Tearline Department looks forward to a steady stream of extremely nerdy content from Steve’s new position.