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A new Emerson College poll suggests that the wording around carbon pricing — whether voters support a carbon "tax" versus a carbon "fine on corporations" — could matter a lot.

Why it matters: Several 2020 White House hopefuls — including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren — have endorsed some kind of pricing, though details are scarce.

What they found: Emerson polled slightly over 1,000 voters on Sept. 21–23.

  • The question: "Would you support or oppose a carbon tax?" The answer: 35% supported it, 27% opposed and 38% percent were unsure. (Margin of error is 4.9%.)
  • The question, posed to the other half of the group: "Would you support or oppose a fine on corporations that pollute the air with carbon dioxide?” The answer: 52% supported it, 25% opposed and 24% were unsure. (MOE is 4.3%.)

But, but, but: The level of public support for a given policy is just loosely related to its chances of advancement.

  • Needless to say, there are all kinds of detailed policy design questions beyond the scope of these 30,000-foot level questions.
  • But generally speaking, a fine on companies would probably seep through into their prices.

Go deeper: Carbon tax campaign unveils new details and backers

Editor's note: This story has been clarified to reflect that, when asked about a "carbon tax," 35% of voters polled by Emerson supported the measure and 27% opposed it.

Go deeper

President Joe Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.