Key Findings of Energy Subsidy Poll

The Tarrance Group presented Heritage Action for America with the key findings from a survey of N=803 registered “likely” voters across the country.  Interviews were conducted October 23-25, 2011.  In 95 out of 100 cases, the margin of error on a sample of this type is +/- 3.5%.


  • Voters throughout the country express strong opposition to the federal government choosing specific energy companies and industries within this sector to provide financial subsidies.   Nearly three quarters of voters (72%) oppose the federal government choosing which companies within a certain industry will receive financial subsidies, with a majority (54%) strongly opposing.  This strong opposition is bipartisan, reaching 70% among Independents, 66% among Democrats, and 82% among Republicans.  Voters are also negative toward energy subsidies in general, as only 39% favor the federal government providing some energy companies with financial help in the form of subsidies (50% oppose).
  • This strong opinion against energy subsidies for some private companies is driven by negativity to the government picking winners and losers, as 71% agree that “allowing the federal government to provide financial help to some companies and not others means the government is playing favorites by picking winners and losers in an industry.”
  • There is a significant cost concern to voters, along with a concern over the corruption that could result from the government investing in specific companies:
    • Nearly two thirds (65%) are more concerned that the federal government will spend too much helping energy companies, while only 26% are more concerned that some energy companies might fail without government help.
    • Nearly two thirds (65%) are extremely or very concerned with the possibility that government providing financial support to certain industries could lead to “crony capitalism and corruption.”
    • Seven in ten (69%) agree that “giving taxpayer dollars to corporations that are not succeeding is the same as corporate welfare.”
    • Six in ten (60%) agree that “when private investors don’t want to risk losing their money in a business or industry, then that’s proof that the government should not invest in a company.”
  • Concern over the cost of subsidies is understandable.  A majority (60%) agree more that the size of the U.S. debt and deficit from too much government spending is preventing economic growth, while only 31% agree more that the U.S. debt, deficit and government spending is not preventing economic growth.
  • Opposition to the government picking “winners and losers” is evidenced by voters’ negative feelings toward Solyndra, an energy company that recently filed for bankruptcy only after receiving a $535 million loan from the federal government and a public endorsement by President Obama. Nearly two thirds (65%) agree that Solyndra going bankrupt is a “perfect example of why the federal government should not be in the role of picking winners and losers, no matter what industry or company it is.” 
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