62 Percent Oppose Govt Subsidies to Oil but 58 Percent Favor Subsidies to Wind and Solar Companies


While most Americans may say oil, gas, and coal companies shouldn't get taxpayer dollars to help run their business, they are willing to make an exception for alternative energy companies.

The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that 31 percent of Americans favor the federal government providing subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies, while 62 percent oppose. However, support jumps to 58 percent in support of government subsidies to wind, solar, and hydrogen companies, while 36 percent oppose.

These results indicate Americans may make a distinction between older, established industries who are already profitable and young companies researching new technologies that may drive down current energy prices.

While partisans generally agree the government should not provide subsidies to traditional energy companies, partisanship impacts reactions to government subsidizing alternative energy companies. Sixty-two percent of both Democrats and independents favor subsidies to wind and solar companies compared to 46 percent of Republicans (who are evenly divided).

Besides tea partiers, the only political group to oppose alternative energy subsidies include self-identified conservatives, with 43 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed.

Even a slim majority (51 percent) of Americans who say they prefer free market solutions to strong government favor subsidies to alternative energy, while 44 percent are opposed.

As education increases, so does support for alternative energy subsidies rising from 51 percent among high school grads to 65 percent among college graduates. Young people are also more supportive, including 70 percent of millennials, compared to 51 percent of seniors. Interestingly, millennials are also more supportive of subsidies to traditional energy companies than older Americans by a margin of 41 to 27 percent.

It's also worth pointing out that many Americans may not even know what a government subsidy even is. Among these Americans, these questions tell us which types of energy companies Americans like more. In this instance, new is better.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 26-30 2014 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.6%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.