Americans More Likely to Vote for Candidates Who Act on Climate

Here’s a simple quiz to test your knowledge about the opinions of our voting public. Are Americans more likely to vote for candidates who:

a) support government action to curb climate change

b) campaign on fighting climate change

c) question or deny the science of human-caused climate change

d) oppose policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions

e) say that human-caused climate change is a hoax

f) a & b above

g) c, d & e above

According to a recent poll conducted by Stanford University, the New York Times and research group Resources for the Future, the correct answer is “a & b above.” 

The poll shows that a candidate’s position on climate change influences voters’ choices. It also shows an overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, want the government to do something about climate change. 83 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, climate change will be a “very” or “somewhat” serious problem in the future.

The poll also finds that the number of Americans who believe that climate change is caused by human activity is growing (by 9 percentage points since 2011), and that a large majority of Americans — 71 percent — expect that they will be personally hurt by climate change impacts. A Republican homemaker from N.J. explained her concern about the effect of climate change: “A tree fell on my house during Hurricane Sandy, and in the future, it might be worse. The stronger storms and the flooding will erode the coastline, and that is a big concern for me.” 

These results are in-line with January’s annual Pew Research Center policy priorities survey, which showed that American citizens view climate change as more important than they did two years ago.

The clear takeaway of these polls is that climate change is emerging as a central theme for the upcoming election cycle. Local (and national) politicians who want align with the majority of their electorate will need to carve out a position on climate change, including what he/she will do to support climate solutions in 2016 and beyond. As summed up by one respondent: “To just ignore climate change completely indicates a close-minded individual, and I don’t want a close-minded individual in a seat of political power.”

At the same time, candidates for office in 2016 will be challenged to connect with their voters over climate action without alienating powerful campaign donors. For example, advocacy groups funded by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch have vowed to ensure that Republican candidates who support climate change action will lose in primary elections.

But that’s a topic for another day and another blog.

By Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly | The New York Times 

Most Republicans Say They Back Climate Action, Poll Finds

Jan. 30, 2015, Washington — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including 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 said they were more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They were less likely to vote for candidates who questioned or denied the science that determined that humans caused global warming.

Among Republicans, 48 percent say 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 question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.

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