54% of Conservative Republicans Believe Climate Change Is Real and Humans Play a Role

blog-GOP voters-10.2.15American opinions about climate change may be far less polarized than we’ve been led to believe. According to a new survey, the majority of Republican voters understand that climate change is happening and favor candidates who plan to address it. By contrast, all of the leading GOP presidential candidates have expressed doubt about climate change. As this New York Times article points out, this attitude puts those candidates in danger of seeming out of touch. To avoid that risk, Republican candidates “need to move beyond questioning and start offering solutions.”
The survey did find some major differences between Democrats and Republicans. As we’ve discussed previously, GOP voters are more open to climate messages that are depoliticized and focused on benefits. In the poll, conservatives responded poorly to language that talked about fighting climate change specifically or stressed the need for government regulation. They responded better to statements saying we should support clean energy because it improves air quality and offers energy independence. They also preferred language that framed climate solutions in terms of risk aversion.
When it came to climate policies themselves, conservatives overwhelmingly supported rooftop solar and net metering. 54 percent also said they would support a carbon tax if the revenues were returned to consumers. Once again, these findings contrast sharply with the policies favored by GOP presidential hopefuls and conservative members of Congress. Will Republican candidates finally start listening to their constituents, and getting serious about solutions?

Many Conservative Republicans Believe Climate Change Is a Real Threat

By Coral Davenport, contributor to The New York Times
A majority of Republicans — including 54 percent of self-described conservative Republicans — believe the world’s climate is changing and that mankind plays some role in the change, according to a new survey conducted by three prominent Republican pollsters.
The results echo a number of other recent surveys concluding that despite the talk of many of the party’s candidates, a significant number of Republicans and independent voters are inclined to support candidates who would back some form of climate action. It may also point to a problem facing Republicans seeking their party’s presidential nomination: The activists who crowd town hall meetings and Republican presidential caucuses and primaries might not reflect the broader attitude of even the Republican electorate.
The survey was commissioned by Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman who calls himself a conservative Republican and has announced that he intends to spend $10 million on efforts to lobby Republicans to embrace the issue of climate change. He has spent $165 million to start a nonprofit foundation, ClearPath, aimed at promoting climate change and clean energy policies that could appeal to conservatives.
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