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Politics / Elections

April 15 2015

Human-Caused Global Warming: Senators v. Constituents

Human-Caused Global Warming: Senators v. Constituents

In January 2015, the U.S. Senate voted on an amendment sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) stating that: “it is the sense of Congress that — (1) climate change is real; and (2) human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” 50 Senators voted in favor of the amendment, while 49 opposed it.

In this note we compare each Senator’s vote on the Schatz amendment with the views of their own constituents, according to our model of public opinion about climate change at the state level. The comparison finds that Senators were more likely to vote “Yea” on the Schatz amendment if they represent states where a majority of constituents think global warming is at least partly caused by human activities. Senators from states where the public was evenly split or slightly more likely to say global warming isn’t happening or naturally caused were more likely to vote “Nay.”

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Topics: Politics / Elections
March 03 2015

Will new voter demographics move public opinion on climate change?

We are pleased to share a piece we authored recently published in The Conversation about how the American electorate is changing in ways that bode well for increased support for tackling climate change.

The Rising American Electorate (RAE) is a voting block identified by the non-profit Voter Participation Center as young voters (18-30 year olds), Latinos, African-Americans, unmarried women and others. According to exit polls, this group accounted for about half of voters (48%) in the 2012 national elections and is projected to comprise a growing proportion of the electorate in the coming years.

The RAE is more engaged than other Americans on climate issues. According to YPCCC/George Mason research, a solid majority of the RAE is worried about global warming (63%), compared to just half of other Americans registered to vote (50%), and more of the RAE say global warming is important to them (62% versus 52%, respectively).

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Topics: Politics / Elections
January 12 2015

Not All Republicans Think Alike About Global Warming

Not All Republicans Think Alike About Global Warming

The new Republican leaders in Congress have pledged to roll back the EPA’s proposed new regulations on coal-fired power plants – a key component of President Obama’s strategy to reduce global warming.

However, Republican voters are actually split in their views about climate change. A look at public opinion among Republicans over the past few years finds a more complex – and divided – Republican electorate.

For this study, we combined the results from six of our nationally-representative surveys over the past three years, which provided enough data for an in-depth analysis of the diversity of views about global warming within the Republican party.

We find that solid majorities of self-identified moderate and liberal Republicans – who comprise 30% of the party – think global warming is happening (62% and 68% respectively). By contrast, 38% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. At the extreme, Tea Party Republicans (17% of the party) are the most dismissive – only 29% think global warming is happening.

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Policy Support Politics / Elections
October 30 2014

Global Warming & the Rising American Electorate

Environmental groups are spending record amounts of money on environment and energy campaign ads this season. Candidates in hotly contested races are using climate change to distinguish themselves from their opponents, even though the issue is not top-tier for voters in the midterms.

An important driver of the prominence of global warming in American politics is how the issue resonates with the so-called Rising American Electorate (RAE) – Millennials (18-to-30 year olds), Latinos, African Americans, and unmarried women, among others. According to the Census, the RAE is a rapidly growing segment within the U.S. population and as a group, the RAE comprised nearly half (48%) of the electorate in 2012 according to national exit polls.

As the RAE votes in growing numbers, they will increasingly replace more traditional types of voters, such as older white men and married women. So what does the RAE think of global warming?

In our Spring 2014 survey, we asked a representative sample of American voters how a candidate’s support or opposition to reducing global warming would influence their vote. While all registered voters appear more likely to support a pro-climate action candidate (45%) over an anti-climate action candidate (17%), the RAE is particularly likely to do so when compared to traditional voters (51% and 12%, respectively).

 

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Politics / Elections
September 29 2014

Media “Echo Chambers” and Climate Change

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of a new peer-reviewed article: Feldman, L., Myers, T., Hmielowski, J., & Leiserowitz, A. (2014). The mutual reinforcement of media selectivity and effects: Testing the reinforcing spirals framework in the context of global warming. Journal of Communication. DOI:10.1111/jcom.12108

Given the diverse sources of news now available in the U.S., partisans can easily choose news sources that align with their political attitudes. Does the rise of partisan news—on cable, talk radio, and the Internet—allow Americans to insulate themselves in “echo chambers” where they are exposed only to content consistent with their opinions, while shielded from dissenting views? If so, this may reinforce partisans’ existing attitudes, making it increasingly difficult for policymakers and the public to achieve mutual understanding and compromise on the most pressing issues of the day, including climate change.

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Media Politics / Elections
September 24 2014

Beyond Partisanship on Climate Change

The visuals at the People’s Climate March in New York last Sunday conveyed more than just catchy slogans and clever words of inspiration. The signs and costumes and floats were messages to the world designed to create change.  This marcher is making a very clear statement that is supported by our findings, presented in our recent report, Politics and Global Warming, Spring 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                   We find that while big differences do exist between conservative Republicans and Democrats, other Republicans look more like Democrats than their conservative fellow party members on numerous climate issues. Just one example among registered voters: Majorities of Democrats (88 percent) and moderate-to-liberal Republicans (61 percent) think global warming is happening. By marked contrast, only about one in four – 28 percent – conservative Republicans agree.

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Policy Support Politics / Elections
July 27 2014

Voters Will Support Pro-Climate Candidates With Pledges, Time, and Money

Voters Will Support Pro-Climate Candidates With Pledges, Time, and Money

Millions of registered voters  would sign a pledge to vote for, would work for, or would give money to candidates who share their views on global warming – if asked to by a person they like and respect. This suggests that global warming could become a more prominent electoral issue if campaigns engage and mobilize this potential “issue public.”

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Topics: Citizen Behavior Politics / Elections
July 15 2014

How Important is Global Warming to the American Voter?

How Important is Global Warming to the American Voter?

In our spring 2014 national survey, we asked Americans who are registered to vote how important 19 different issues will be to their vote in the 2014 Congressional election. Here we focus only on those who say an issue will be “very important” to their vote – the strongest possible response. Fewer than half of Americans say a candidate’s stance on energy independence (43%), protecting the environment (39%), developing clean energy sources (39%), or global warming (32%) will be “very important” to their vote.

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Politics / Elections
June 26 2014

Politics & Global Warming, Spring 2014

Politics & Global Warming, Spring 2014

A special report on the politics of global warming. Based on a nationally representative survey conducted in spring 2014, we analyze how Democrats, Republicans and Independents think about global warming, what policies they support or oppose, and the different types of political activism they are willing to engage in.

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Topics: Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Policy Support Politics / Elections Risk Perceptions
May 29 2014

Americans support limits on CO2

Americans support limits on CO2

Americans support limits on CO2 from existing coal-fired power plants and regulating CO2 as a pollutant

Each year in the United States about 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions – the primary cause of global warming – comes from electric power plants, especially those powered by the burning of coal.

On Monday, June 2, the EPA will release new proposed limits on CO2 emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. These regulations are likely to face fierce resistance from the coal industry and their allies.

What do Americans think about these proposed limits?

A national opinion survey we conducted in April of this year finds that – by nearly a two to one margin – Americans support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired plants, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increases.

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Topics: Policy Support Politics / Elections
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