The Heat Is Online

Poll: Most voters (and nearly half Republicans) want climate action

Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds

The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2015

WASHINGTON — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.

In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.

 Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called “the most powerful finding” in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.

Nonetheless, 47 percent of Republicans still said they believe that policies designed to curb global warming will hurt the economy.

Although the poll found that climate change was not a top issue in determining a person’s vote, a candidate’s position on climate change influences how a person will vote. For example, 67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.

The results come as climate change is emerging as a source of debate in the coming presidential campaign.

In 2012, all the Republican presidential candidates but one – Jon M. Huntsman Jr. – questioned or denied the science that determined that humans caused global warming, and opposed policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But over the past year, President Obama has proposed a series of Environmental Protection Agency regulations intended to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, which Republicans in Congress have attacked as a “war on coal.”

But those positions appear to be out of step with the majority of the electorate.

The poll found that 83 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future.