News Feature | November 10, 2020

Presidential Election Polling Shows What Americans Think About Water Issues

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


As Americans shared their views on political issues leading up the presidential election this month, they revealed the national outlook on central drinking water and wastewater concerns at a most crucial juncture.

Polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College, which were central to estimations about whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden would win the U.S. presidency, also gathered data about opinions on climate change, oil and gas operations, and other environmental concerns from the country as a whole and political battleground states in particular.

For instance, the polls collected the latest and most comprehensive views on global warming, asking participants, “How concerned are you about your community being harmed by climate change?”

“Nationwide, 58 percent of Americans said they were either ‘very concerned’ or ‘somewhat concerned’ about their communities being harmed by climate change … with 39 percent saying they were ‘not too concerned’ or ‘not concerned at all,’” the Times reported. “But that poll also found a stark partisan split: 90 percent of voters who favored Joseph R. Biden Jr. … expressed concern about climate change, while just 23 percent of voters who backed President Trump, the Republican incumbent, did so.”

Climate change has been traced to issues that directly affect drinking water and wastewater utilities, including the promotion of toxic algae growth in source water, coastal flooding, and water scarcity. By tying concern around these issues to political preferences, the polling suggests that voters think President-elect Biden will have a different approach to these issues than his predecessor.

The Times noted that while the Trump administration has moved to roll back environmental and climate regulations, Biden has proposed spending $2 trillion to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

As political pundits and the nation at large continue their postmortem for this year’s presidential election, it’s likely that the differences in outlook on the environment will keep coming up. As politicians reorient their policies to reflect these views, the country’s drinking water and wastewater treatment operations will certainly be affected.

To read more about one of the most pressing drinking water concerns tied to climate change, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.