New Poll: Conservative Republicans Stand Alone on Immediacy of Climate Threat
Last week, we wrote about demographic data that showed many Americans don’t feel climate change will affect them personally. A new Gallup poll adds some nuance to those findings – whether or not a person believes climate change is an imminent threat is strongly linked to political affiliation.
More than 60 percent of conservative Republicans feel climate change won’t occur within their lifetime, and 40 percent believe it won’t happen at all. By contrast, majorities in all other political groups (including moderate/liberal Republicans) said they thought climate change would happen soon.
This extreme partisan divide is evident in Congress, where conservative politicians have expressed skepticism about climate change and opposed efforts to fight it. However, the poll numbers show that there is much greater agreement among Americans than is generally believed. This should inspire climate communicators to find those areas of common ground, and make the most of them.
By Andrew Dugan
While notable majorities of all other political party/ideology groups say the effects of global warming will happen within their lifetime, fewer than four in 10 conservative Republicans (37%) agree, a sign of that political identity’s strident skepticism on this issue.
Conservative Republicans not only decisively reject the notion that the effects of global warming will happen in this lifetime – a position in sharp contrast to all other political identities — but another 40% say global warming will never happen. This is significantly higher than the percentages of moderate/liberal Republicans (16%), non-leaning independents (14%), conservative/moderate Democrats (5%) and liberal Democrats (3%) who say the same.
These results are based on an aggregate of more than 6,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup’s annual Environment poll each March from 2010 to 2015. Both party affiliation and ideological association are self-reported. The party definitions take into account both respondents’ initial party preference – as Democratic, Republican or independent – and independents’ leanings toward either party, which are ascertained in a follow-up question. Therefore, the group of “Republicans” reported here includes Republican identifiers and Republican-leaning independents. “Democrats” includes Democratic identifiers and Democratic-leaning independents, and “non-leaning independents” are the residual independents who do not lean toward either major party.