Pollster Frank Luntz delivered a letter this summer to every Republican member of Congress claiming broad bipartisan voter support for a carbon dioxide tax. To support his claim, Luntz cited a poll he conducted in conjunction with the Climate Leadership Council – an activist group supporting a carbon dioxide tax. An examination of how Luntz worded and conducted his poll reveals a push-poll with a predetermined desired result that bears little or no semblance to public sentiment. Shame on Frank Luntz for selling out objective polling standards and misleading members of Congress merely to please a client and its activist agenda.

Prior to Luntz’s poll, bad polling news and voting results contradicted activists claiming Republican policymakers would politically benefit from supporting an activist climate agenda. Polling earlier this year showed less than one in three people (https://www.cato.org/blog/68-americans-wouldnt-pay-10-month-higher-electric-bills-combat-climate-change) would pay the small amount of $10 per month to address climate change. and barely half would pay even as little as $1 per month for it. Also, voters in deep-blue Washington state last year illustrated deep opposition to a carbon dioxide tax by rejecting such a tax for the second consecutive election. Notably, one of the rejected proposed carbon dioxide taxes in Washington state pledged to return collected revenues to the people in the form of a “carbon dividend.”

Luntz, misleadingly calling a carbon dioxide tax a “Carbon Dividend,” claimed in his letter to Republican members of Congress, “GOP voters are on board with Carbon Dividends because they believe it will grow the economy, add jobs, help their pocketbooks, and make American businesses more competitive across the world. It’s this component that motivates Republicans to support candidates who will sign onto the Carbon Dividends Solution.”

The details of how Luntz conducted his poll sheds light on how willing Luntz is to deceive policymakers when he is retained by a client to do so.

The poll began by telling people, “Business and environmental leaders are proposing a bipartisan climate solution that charges fossil fuel companies for their carbon emissions and gives all the money directly to the American people through a quarterly check. This new climate solution is called ‘Carbon Dividends’, because all households would receive a quarterly cash payment as part of an effort to solve climate change.” The pollster then asks, “Would you support or oppose this plan?”

Well, if you deceitfully call a carbon dioxide tax a Carbon Dividend, deceitfully claim bipartisan support for a carbon dioxide tax even though nearly every House Republican voted last year to oppose any and all carbon dioxide taxes under any and all conditions, and then tell a false story that the American people won’t have to pay a dime in net costs, one would expect nearly 100 percent of the American people would support such a pie-in-the-sky description. The irony is that only 66 percent of respondents supported the plan, with only 53 percent of self-identifying Republicans supporting the plan.

In a follow-up question, Luntz states, “Economists believe that putting a price on carbon offers a faster, less expensive, and more business-friendly way to reduce emissions than government regulations. Would you support replacing carbon regulations with a price on carbon?”

Ironically, just 53 percent of all respondents said yes, while less than half of Republicans said yes.

So after giving a misleading infomercial before asking questions, and still gaining only tepid support, especially in regard to Republicans, Luntz had the gall to write in his letter to congressional Republicans, “GOP voters are on board with Carbon Dividends because they believe it will grow the economy, add jobs, help their pocketbooks, and make American businesses more competitive across the world. It’s this component that motivates Republicans to support candidates who will sign onto the Carbon Dividends Solution.”

So much for Frank Luntz’s credibility….

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  • CFACT, founded in 1985 by Craig Rucker and the late (truly great) David Rothbard, examines the relationship between human freedom, and issues of energy, environment, climate, economics, civil rights and more.