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Is the political divide on climate change narrower for people of color? Evidence from a decade of US polling

Anthony Leiserowitz and 6 other contributors

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    Abstract

    National polls reveal stark and growing political divisions on the issue of climate change within the United States. However, few studies have explored whether these trends generalize to communities of color, who experience disproportionate environmental risks. Synthesizing over a decade of nationally representative survey data (2008-2019; N = 23,707), we conducted a conceptual replication and extension of previous research on the "racial/ethnic gap" in U.S. climate change opinion. Consistent with prior work, we find that African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos show less political polarization-including both weaker ideological and partisan divides-across a diverse range of belief, risk perception, and policy-support measures. Further, we find that this differential polarization has remained largely stable over time and is robust to effects of other sociodemographic variables, such as education and income. Notably, across the political spectrum, people of color were more likely to report that global warming poses a danger to themselves. Racial/ethnic differences were generally more pronounced among the political Right than the political Left, are generally larger for beliefs and risk perceptions (vs. policy support) and are only partially accounted for by racial/ethnic differences in ideology or party sorting. These results offer comprehensive evidence that climate change is less polarized among people of color in the U.S. Increasing diversity in the environmental sector and conducting more research on socio-cultural differences in environmental responses (including other racial/ethnic groups and indigenous populations) is important to promoting equity in decision-making, addressing environmental disparities, and potentially bridging growing political divides in the U.S.