WASHINGTON –- Young voters are much more likely than senior citizens to say they'll vote for candidates who support cutting greenhouse gas emissions and boosting renewable energy, according to a poll released Tuesday by the University of Texas at Austin.
Sixty-eight percent of people under age 35 said they were more likely to vote for a political candidate who backs measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while half of respondents over age 65 said the same. More than 60 percent of the younger cohort said they wanted a candidate to expand incentives for renewable energy and wanted them to endorse policies requiring utilities to draw a certain percentage of power from renewables. Among voters over age 65, only 48 percent said they were more likely to vote for a candidate based on those two statements.
The poll surveyed 2,105 U.S. residents between Sept. 4 and Sept. 16. Forty-six percent of respondents overall said candidates' positions on energy policy are a major factor for them in deciding on a candidate.
The poll also found an age gap on the question of whether respondents wanted candidates who support building the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada to Texas. Fifty-five percent of older voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who was pro-Keystone, while only 38 percent of the younger voters said they wanted a pipeline-backing candidate.
Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of UT Austin's energy poll, said in an interview with The Huffington Post that the poll shows an interesting generation gap. "A lot of [young] people grew up hearing about climate change, about how we should do things that are good for the planet," said Kirshenbaum. "Maybe it's just the norm for them."
The poll found a double-digit generation gap on almost every energy question. One of the few issues with a smaller gap was expanding natural gas development, with 56 percent of younger voters and 63 percent of older voters wanting a candidate to support that position.
Older voters were more interested in fossil fuels overall. But on the question of whether they wanted candidates to export natural gas, younger voters were more enthusiastic, with 41 percent saying they wanted candidates to support it, compared with 22 percent of the older voters.
The poll found that older voters were more likely to say they planned to actually vote, which is consistent with previous surveys: 87 percent of voters over 65 planned to vote on Nov. 4, while 68 percent of the voters under age 35 said they did.