Solyndra in a teapot by David Atkins

Solyndra in a teapot
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

David Roberts at Grist has a great overview today of the Solyndra nontroversy, based partly on recent polling and focus groups. The upshot? Support for solar energy remains strong even among conservatives, and the non-scandal "scandal" is basically confined to the Fox News nuts:

I just received an interesting memo from a couple of polling firms that have done recent surveys to test the impact of the Solyndra faux-scandal -- a statewide survey in Ohio and some focus groups in California. The work was done by Public Opinion Strategies (a well-known Republican firm) and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a well-known Democratic firm).

The top-line result: Knowledge of the faux-scandal is mostly confined to news junkies, and public support for clean energy broadly, and solar power specifically, remains deep and strong.

In other words, Republicans have not yet succeeded in Climategate-ing Solyndra. Not that they've stopped trying!

Some interesting tidbits from the memo:

People who had heard a "great deal" about Solyndra were "overwhelmingly conservative, male and older." Hm, that's the same demographic that watches Fox News and listens to talk radio! Surely a coincidence.

David then quotes the memo demonstrating that even Republican male swing voters have a highly positive view of solar energy and its future. Worth a read. In sum:

The conservative argument, which tries to use Solyndra to tarnish the whole idea of public investments in clean energy, is failing. Ohio voters were presented with two arguments: One cast Solyndra as emblematic of clean energy investment and the other cast it as an anomaly that shouldn't dim enthusiasm for such investments. They favored the latter 62 to 31 percent.

Opposition to clean energy investment is confined almost entirely to Tea Party voters. Republican women and non-TPers fall more in line with the rest of the public -- they support continued investment by 63 percent, whereas Tea Partiers do by only 36 percent.

Insofar as Solyndra poses a problem for future public investments, it has little to do with clean energy or solar power specifically and everything to do with general skepticism toward public investment.

Just as with LGBT rights, the battle over alternative energy is one our side is winning--far too slowly, of course, but we're winning nonetheless.

It's the economic argument that we're gradually losing, largely because no one who is taken seriously by the press and the big money establishment is making it. In this case, the Republicans are waging a war on alternative energy funding by way of a war on the value of government investment. And while the latter seems to be taking a hit yet again, the former is coming out unscathed despite the all-out assault of the conservative Wurlitzer.

That's good news for solar energy and the environment, and I suppose we should celebrate our victories where we can get them.