The Challenge of Polling Cap-and-Trade

Mark Blumenthal argues that policymakers need to be careful in their interpretation of the public’s response to “cap and trade”, particularly since individuals are likely to develop pseudo-opinions about this concept the moment they are asked about it. This occurs because most Americans are likely to be ill-informed on the issue.

The problem of over-interpreting polling on “cap and trade” is that individuals’ responses on this issue are typically an artifact of the words, or concepts, presented in the question rather than a developed attitude about the policy as a whole. So what can we expect from this phenomenon? That proponents and opponents of this policy will seek to capitalize on the fact that most Americans do not know a lot about this issue, and will distort the facts surrounding the policy outcomes of “cap and trade” as a means to win political points with the public.

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