Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Partisan gaps in attitudes toward biofuels in Wisconsin

Almost two thirds of Wisconsinites support the use (62.5%) and production (60.4%) percent of biofuels. They are less sure, however, about the best ways to promote this new technology. Only a minority of Wisconsin citizens think that federal (47.9%), state (42.7%) or government subsidies (48.7%) should be used to promote biofuels. While almost three in five (59.7%) Wisconsin citizens think that the free market should regulate biofuels, however, a majority (52.7%) also believes that the oil industry will not invest in the new technology without government regulations.

These results are part of a new study of attitudes toward biofuels among Wisconsin citizens, conducted by a research group led by myself and Bret Shaw in Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison.

The tensions between markets and regulations are to some degree explained by clear ideological rifts within the Wisconsin population. While a majority registered Democrats support the use of government subsidies for biofuels research (60.6%), less than 40% of registered Republicans do (38.9%). Similarly, three out of four (75.6%) Republicans believe that the free market should regulate biofuels -- a view that is shared by only 43.7% of Democrats. A majority of both Democrats (60.0%) and Republicans (51.3%), however, agree s that without government regulations, the oil industry will never invest in the development of biofuels.

Click here for the official UW-Madison press release with more details on the study.