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Memo to Newt: Americans Want EPA to do More, Not Less

Newt Gingrich wants to abolish the "job killing" EPA. The problem: most Americans really like the agency.

Newt Gingrich has been talking big and bold lately about abolishing the EPA. Some new polling data (PDF), however, suggests that if he's serious about a 2012 presidential bid, he should dial back the rhetoric. The EPA, it turns out, is pretty popular, and abolishing it is opposed across all party lines.

We created this chart out of the ORC International survey data, and we've paraphrased the wording of the questions for clarity. Here are the original survey results (PDF).

Kate Sheppard has been tracking Gingrich's comments, so check her posts out for the full arc, but his sentiment can be pretty well summed up in this line from an email to supporters:

Of all the government agencies that have become barriers to job creation and economic growth, the Environmental Protection Agency is the worst offender.

But according to this survey, 61 percent of Republicans oppose eliminating the EPA. And even within the GOP, more respondents wanted the EPA to "do more" (49 percent) than "do less" (44 percent). Sure, Gingrich is positioning himself to win the Tea Party fringe of the Republican party, but these numbers show that the proposal would fall flat in the general election. Nationwide, only one quarter of respondents supported the proposal of eliminating the EPA, and 67 percent opposed it.

But then I remember that environmental protection isn't an issue that anyone votes on (it's the economy, stupid), and if Gingrich did win the primary, you can bet the farm he'd pretty quickly shut up about shutting down the popular EPA. So maybe it's good politics after all?

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