Nuclear energy is a polarizing topic in the United States. Some people embrace it as a chance for clean, renewable energy; others deride it as unsafe and dangerous. In our latest Omnibus poll, American Strategies asked respondents their position on increasing production of nuclear energy and how comfortable they are living near a nuclear power plant. Overall, 58 percent of respondents favor the United States ramping up nuclear power production, yet a minority feel comfortable living within 100 miles of a nuclear power plant.
Young people are less likely to approve of nuclear energy than older respondents: 73 percent of respondents age 65+ favor nuclear energy, versus just 36 percent of those age 18-29 who say the same. Voters between ages 30 and 49 lean toward support of increasing nuclear energy, but to a lesser degree than seniors, who are the most likely age cohort to favor increasing production of nuclear energy in the United States.
When it comes to partisan differences, Republicans are more supportive of nuclear energy than Democrats, but age plays a role within partisanship. Voters age 50 and older, whether Democrat or Republican, are firmly supportive of nuclear energy. Partisans under age 50 are split, with younger Democrats most likely to oppose.
Poll results identify a type of “Nuclear NIMBYISM” – what we have termed those who are uncomfortable living within 100 miles of a nuclear reactor, but support production of more nuclear energy. While a large majority of voters who strongly favor increasing nuclear energy production would feel comfortable living within 100 miles of a nuclear power plant, almost one-third of these strong supporters would only feel comfortable living 100 miles or more.
Moreover, a majority of soft supporters of nuclear energy would only feel comfortable living 100 miles or more from a nuclear power plant. Although a majority of voters favor increasing the production of nuclear energy in the U.S., the production of new nuclear power plants looks to face pushback even from supporters of nuclear energy.