Misleading poll questions to pressure GOP candidates into cronyism for renewable energy? Sounds familiar.

A report in The Washington Examiner takes to task ClearPath Action for asking laughably weighted poll questions in order to pressure Republican candidates with the “coerced outcome that says candidates who embrace so-called ‘clean energy’ stand to gain politically in next year’s mid-term congressional elections.”

Writing for the Examiner, Kevin Mooney explains:

While it may or may not be the case that support for “clean energy” will benefit Republicans politically, the polling results are highly suspect, and if news coverage of the polling were honest, it would say so.

Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman, founded the ClearPath Foundation and the ClearPath Action Fund in 2015 for the purpose of convincing conservatives and Republicans to embrace clean energy.

Mooney highlights, for example, these questions about the kinds of candidates respondents would be “more or less likely to vote for”:

  • “A Republican candidate for Congress who supports accelerating the clean energy industry to bring more jobs into their district; stimulating the economy, boosting manufacturing, and expanding middle class job opportunities at home.”
  • “A Republican candidate for Congress who is concerned about the continuing decline of middle class jobs. When thinking about the jobs of the future, they think it’s critical to invest in clean energy jobs now so that the next generation will inherit a secure economy.”
  • “A Republican candidate for Congress who believes we should do more to invest in clean energy here in America and reduce our county’s dependence on foreign oil from hostile states in the Middle East. Our ability to avoid future wars will depend on our ability to be energy dominant.”

As Mooney points out, “The questions presume that so-called ‘clean energy’ is economically feasible, financially beneficial and environmentally sound. In reality, there is a growing body of evidence with regard to wind and solar that says otherwise.”

The same trickery’s been used in NC for years

I sympathize with Mooney. It’s unpleasant having to wade through disingenuous question and disingenuous question like that. It’s bad enough to know that they’re deliberately being used to mislead decision makers with political power.

What makes it worse is, it’s obviously being done by people who know they have to mislead in order to gain political power for their special interest.

Their approach is, as I wrote earlier this year about the latest poll, “If you can’t win customers and investors, win politicians.”

The last time I went question-by-misleading-question through one of these political pressure instruments, I prefaced it this way:

new poll reiterates previous findings that, when costs aren’t a factor, North Carolinians generally and widely favor renewable energy sources.

This is a consistent finding over the years. Polls on the left and right have found that North Carolinians favor more options in energy provision and that they favor more choice in electricity provision. Neither of these findings should surprise; you could substitute just about any consumer good instead of electricity and find the same.

So these polls become a bombastic exercise in playing hide the costs under a flurry of buzzwords.

They have to.

The last one only alluded to energy costs one time:

Sanders said the only time the poll offered any hint that renewable energy sources cost more than fossil fuel occurred in the campaign context of Donald Trump’s energy policy versus Hillary Clinton’s. The poll found that respondents favored Clinton’s position over Trump’s by 51.8 percent to 28.5 percent.

“I think that question undercuts the entire rationale of the poll,” Sanders said. “The poll wishes policymakers to think that government favoritism and purchase mandates boosting renewable energy are winning political issues. But in point of fact voters in this state favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.”

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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