Cap and trade polls well (for now)

CAP AND TRADE POLLS WELL (FOR NOW)…. The polls have been pretty consistent all year — most Americans agree that a cap-and-trade bill is a good idea.

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they support the proposed system to limit emissions, while 41 percent are opposed, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll released Friday morning. Seven percent were unsure of their thoughts on the bill.

The poll lends a bit of a boost to the controversial environmental legislation in the U.S. before a global climate change summit kicks in to full effect in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A recent CNN poll also found majority support for cap and trade, and so did a recent Politico poll, Pew Research Center poll, and Washington Post/ABC News poll.

This is, on its face, encouraging. As the debate on energy policy picks up, it obviously helps to start off with a public that’s generally supportive of making necessary changes.

But I’m still reluctant to count on this support lasting. For one thing, the public’s understanding of the issue is limited, and the larger national debate over proposed legislation has barely started. Are the poll numbers sustainable? What happens when the coal industry, Fox News, and the Republican National Committee start telling Americans that a “market-based approach” to climate change will require child sacrifices and human cannibalism? How quickly will support fade after the Council on American Goodness runs ads saying that President Obama’s energy policies will make it illegal for families to use the bathroom?

We know that lying works in shaping the debate, and the lying on the climate bill has barely started. We can’t expect major media markets to separate fact from fiction, so I have a hard time believing the polling support will last.

It’s going to take a lot of work, and more than a little political courage from those not inclined to show any.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.