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Whose policy is it anyway? Public support for clean energy policy depends on the message and the messenger

October 6, 2021

Research from CSSN scholar Emily Diamond and Jack Zhao finds that certain clean energy policy message and messengers work across partisan divides.


Environmental policy advocates are increasingly proposing ‘bundled’ clean energy policies to combat climate change while also creating jobs and transforming the economy. While such strategies may broaden the appeal of climate policies, these broad constituencies create challenges for policy communicators – how do messages about different aspects of the policy, coming from different messenger groups, influence public support for clean energy policies? This study uses a modified conjoint survey experiment (n = 2145) to test how the interaction between message frames (addressing climate change vs. creating jobs) and sources (business, environmental, or labor groups) influenced policy support for clean energy policies. Results show that job creation frames from business or environmental groups were most effective. We find evidence that certain message/source combinations work across partisanship divides: messages that were effective for one partisan group did not backfire – and often also increased policy support – when presented to the other group.

Image Credit: Shutterstock: Kampan