Poll Finds Most Voters Don’t Know What ESG Means

A recent survey found that while most voters have never heard of the ESG movement, they do oppose investments being leveraged for a political or ideological agenda.

The ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) movement encourages fund managers to steer investments to companies that promote environmental or social justice causes like zero emissions and clean energy rather than basing investment decisions on providing the highest returns.

A Harvard/Harris survey released this week found that the majority of respondents (64 percent) have not heard of the ESG movement.

But when asked if they thought investment managers “have a duty to prioritize returns above all else” or if they should be allowed to take ESG and climate change into consideration, the majority of respondents (52 percent) said returns should be prioritized while 48 percent said climate change and ESG should be considered.

Broken down by party, a vast majority of Republicans (63 percent) said returns should be prioritized while the majority of Democrats (56 percent) came down on the side of ESG and climate change. Independents, meanwhile, were evenly split 50/50.

Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation that would have overturned a Labor Department rule to make it easier for fund managers to consider ESG for shareholder rights decisions and investments.

The measure passed the House in February and the Senate passed it by a 50-46 vote on March 1, with Democrat Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Tester of Montana voting with Republicans.

However, President Biden rejected the legislation, issuing the first veto of his presidency. 

When asked if they supported President Biden’s veto of the measure, the majority (53 percent) supported the veto while 47 percent opposed it.

Broken down by party, 75 percent of Democrats supported the president’s veto while 65 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Independents opposed it.