Latest polling data on climate change and political parties

The Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University is out with its latest poll today, on “Politics and Global Warming: Democrats, Republicans, Independents and the Tea Party.”  The poll examines the difference in views among members of those four groups on a variety of climate- and energy-related topics.

First thing to note is the breakout of the Tea Party as a category separate from the others, consisting of all respondents who self-identified that way (regardless of party registration).  This drew some of the most conservative voices disproportionately from the traditional Republican camp and therefore serves to moderate the overall results for the Repubs.  (Percentage breakdown for poll respondents was: 39% Dem, 25% Indep, 24% Repub, 12% Tea Party.)  The Center cites these as some of the poll’s main findings on attitudes toward global warming:

  • Majorities of Democrats (78%), Independents (71%) and Republicans (53%) believe that global warming is happening. By contrast, only 34 percent of Tea Party members believe global warming is happening, while 53 percent say it is not happening.
  • While 62 percent of Democrats say that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, most Tea Party members say it is either naturally caused (50%) or isn’t happening at all (21%).
  • A majority of Democrats (55%) say that most scientists think global warming is happening, while majorities of Republicans (56%) and Tea Party members (69%) say that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.
  • A large majority of Democrats (72%) worry about global warming, compared to 53 percent of Independents, 38 percent of Republicans, and 24 percent of Tea Party members. Over half (51%) of Tea Party members say they are not at all worried about global warming.
  • Nearly half of Democrats (45%) say that global warming is already harming people in the United States, while 33 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Tea Party members say it will never harm people in the United States.
  • Tea Party members are much more likely to say that they are “very well informed” about global warming than the other groups. Likewise, they are also much more likely to say they “do not need any more information” about global warming to make up their mind.

There’s a lot to mine here, but one of the most interesting findings is that people trying to educate voters about climate change science are doing a terrible job *even among those who agree that climate change is happening*.  While 78% and 71% of Dems and Independents, respectively, believe that global warming is happening, only 55% of Dems and some lesser number of Independents say that most scientists say global warming is happening.  Others instead endorse the statement that “[t]here is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.”

In other words, there is a disturbing disconnect between the degree to which Dems and Independents themselves think climate change is happening, and their own characterization of most scientists’ views on the matter.  It’s an important science literacy gap, one that suggests the need to prioritize supporting and reaffirming the foundation for the climate change understandings of even our strongest supporters.

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Reader Comments

7 Replies to “Latest polling data on climate change and political parties”

  1. Good info. Bad education, bad! Must fix!

    Still, I would like to see the questions asked about “independent scientists in the field who are not supported by grants from industry” instead of just “scientists”.

    I would also like to see respondents asked if they believe Jesus was virgin born (i.e., whether that happened naturally, without human, ahem, intervention) before they’re asked if human activities are causing climate change.

  2. Hi, Dave – The poll didn’t ask about Jesus, but it did ask whether respondents agreed with the statement that “Human beings, as we know them today, evolved from earlier species of animals.” 49% of Republicans and 66% of Tea Partiers disagree strongly or somewhat with that statement.

  3. Now that President Obama has fixed the ozone problem it is time for him to remedy flawed greenhouse gas rules. The President has given us encouragement, hope and support for reasonable actions to correct persistent problems with regulatory abuse, climate “science,” and fake public health problems. This new approach gives the President credibility with ordinary citizens and may improve his chances for re-election. Congratulations.

  4. This does indicate a huge problem. Any percentage that believe “man-made climate change,” is a percentage too high and indicates government involvement has had a hand in the payment of climatologists. It’s been made exposed to the public that the climatologist who’s opinion is that climate change is caused by humans, obtains the majority, if not all, of their monetary compensation from government grants and subsidies. Climatologists who do not receive their compensation from the government and feel free to make an honest decision on the data are most likely to say that if climate change exists, it is most likely not man-made. That was exposed in the emails found in “Climate-Gate.”

  5. Cosmologists and geologists among others agree that the earth is in a state of warming because of human activities when it should be cooling due to the position of the earth to the sun in its orbit. The planet is entering the farthest reach of its orbit around the sun and studies of past ecological eras have shown that when this happens the planet enters an ice age. These cycles are constant and have been until about 200 years ago when humans began impacting the atmosphere in a meaningful way. With the increase in C02 into the atmosphere the ice fields at the poles and glaciers have been retreating increasing the areas where sunlight is absorbed by the oceans and not deflected back into space resulting in a warming planet.

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About Cara

Cara Horowitz is the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. The Emmett Institute was founded as the f…

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