CGO Abundance Poll October 2022

Executive Summary

As the US economy fitfully emerges from the shadow of COVID-19, Americans are looking to the future with a mixture of optimism and uncertainty. Amidst an energy crisis in Europe, lingering shortages and inflation, and increased public attention to climate change, how can we move away from a scarcity mindset and toward a future of abundance? Where should we invest our effort and attention? 

The CGO polled 1,000 Americans to understand what they think about abundance, the role of technology and innovation, and America’s prospects for the future. Here we report the raw results broken out by political affiliation, age, sex, and other factors. 

What would a future of abundance look like? Abundance means greater economic growth, higher quality of life, and greater environmental sustainability—all at cheaper prices. This CGO poll (administered by YouGov) captures a snapshot of Americans’ attitudes about the future and their confidence in the public and private institutions with a role in building that future.

We asked questions about Americans’ attitudes toward technology and innovation, which institutions they think are doing the most to help or hurt the future prosperity of the US, and whether they think affordable, clean energy production is possible in the next 50 years. We also asked:

  • If you could recommend when someone should be born so that person would have a thriving and fulfilling life, when would you recommend they be born?
  • If there was no negative environmental impact, do you think that the federal government should allow companies to use federal land for non-fossil fuel energy production?
  • Which group do you think is most to blame for the lack of new affordable infrastructure in the US?
  • Do you think the US government does a good or bad job balancing innovation and safety?

Living a Thriving and Fulfilling Life

When should someone be born to have a thriving and fulfilling life?

The options are today, 200 years in the past, 200 years in the future, or unsure. Respondents are largely unsure—42% overall.

Women are somewhat more uncertain than men (45% women vs 39% men), but they are also slightly more willing to recommend being born 200 years ago (18% women vs 16% men).

If we split answers to this question into age buckets, the uncertainty remains, but it also climbs with age. Older respondents are more likely to be unsure—those 45 and up report “not sure” nearly half of the time. The youngest are more optimistic about the future.

People remain uncertain about this question no matter their political beliefs. One in three Republican respondents report being uncertain, while about one in two Democrats or Independents report uncertainty.

Republican respondents are more optimistic about the past. One in four Republicans say that to live a thriving and fulfilling life, someone should be born 200 years ago.

Innovation vs Safety

Should the government favor innovation or safety?

Overall, half of respondents say that the government should prioritize safety. There’s substantial uncertainty, however, with one in five respondents selecting “not sure.” One in four respondents report that they want the federal government to prioritize innovation.

Women are substantially more likely to favor safety than men. In contrast, men are twice as favorable towards innovation.

Democrats are more likely to respond that they favor safety than are Republicans. One in three Republicans prefer that the government favor innovation compared to just one in five Democrats.

Following politics seems to be positively related to favoring innovation over safety. Those who report following political issues more closely prefer innovation more than those who report following politics “hardly at all.”

Do you think the US government does a good or bad job balancing innovation and safety?

According to 53% of respondents, the government does a somewhat or very bad job balancing innovation and safety.

Democrats appear more satisfied with the government’s balance of innovation and safety. Nearly half of Democrat respondents (46%) believe that the government does a very good job or a somewhat good job balancing innovation and safety. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans think the government does a somewhat or very bad job.


How likely is it that energy could be produced for free in the next 50 years?

Americans are split on whether or not they think energy too cheap to meter can be produced within the next 50 years. Most respondents are in the middle, either indicating they think cheap energy production is somewhat likely or not very likely.

Among political affiliations, Democrats are the only group with a majority believing it is likely that energy will be produced so cheaply that it will practically be free.

Should companies be allowed to use federal land for non-fossil fuel energy production?

Provided that there are no negative environmental impacts, many respondents are in favor of allowing companies to use federal land for clean energy production. Just under half (48%) support the idea, with 30% of respondents saying they are unsure. Roughly one in five people (22%) are opposed to non-fossil fuel energy production on public land.

Political affiliation doesn’t seem to affect responses to this question. Half of all respondents, regardless of affiliation, support the use of federal lands for non-fossil fuel energy production, if negative environmental impacts are prevented.

Affordable Infrastructure

Which group do you think is most to blame for the lack of new affordable infrastructure in the US?

When asking which group is most to blame for the lack of new affordable infrastructure in the US, the three most common responses are the federal government (one in three), Congress (one in five), and the president (one in six). In fact, two-thirds of respondents, 65%, blame some part of the affordability problem on the federal government, Congress, or the president.

Clear partisan differences in responses emerge if you split responses by political affiliation. The common element is still the federal government, but Democrats are more supportive of the president than other affiliations.

Among Democrats, 49% blame Congress or the federal government. Among Republicans, 70% blame the federal government or the president.

Survey methodology

The survey pool consists of 1,000 adult US respondents sampled from July 19–21, 2022. Specific results have not been tested to determine if they are statistically significant, but the data is weighted to be representative of the US population. Some numbers have been rounded to provide clarity. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.43 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.