Majority of millennials take energy issues into account when voting, UT poll indicates

Hannah Daniel

Millennial views on energy issues could play a role in the upcoming presidential election, according to the most recent annual UT energy poll. 

The fall 2016 poll surveyed 2,043 Americans to gauge public attitudes on a variety of energy issues, such as climate change and hydraulic fracturing.

The poll shows 79 percent of Americans now agree climate change is occurring, a significant increase from 65 percent in 2012, said Sheril Kirshenbaum, UT energy poll director.

“The percentage of Americans who accept that climate change is occurring is higher than we’ve ever seen before,” Kirshenbaum said.

According to the poll, disparities exist in belief in climate change among different age and political groups. Ninety-one percent of millennials said climate change is occurring, in comparison to 74 percent of seniors. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats believe climate change is occurring, while only 62 percent of Republicans share this belief.

Attitudes on energy and environmental issues may impact the result of the November election, Kirshenbaum said. Sixty-three percent of millennials and 34 percent of voters age 65 and older say energy issues will influence their vote, according to a UT press release.

“If a lot of millennials turn out to vote and they plan on voting based on energy issues as our poll suggests, then that could certainly influence who sits in the Oval Office for the next four to eight years,” Kirshenbaum said. “We’re at a point where the number of boomers is about equal to the number of millennials who can vote, so it’s all about who’s coming out next week.”

David Spence, law and regulation professor, said that although energy and environment issues are not at the forefront of this election, Trump and Clinton do disagree on the future of the American energy system.

“The Trump campaign has indicated its support for not only continuing the use of fossil fuels, but boosting them in the future,” Spence said. “The Clinton campaign has indicated that they will continue and extend the Obama administration’s plan for fighting climate change and restricting the emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Advertising junior Carlyn Hinojosa said energy issues influenced her vote in this year’s presidential election.

“I think climate change is real, like most scientists in the world do,” Hinojosa said. “The party I voted for acknowledges climate change and supports energy alternatives, so I think that would be one factor among many that made me vote the way I did.”