This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on the two parties’ approaches to climate change; the connection between hurricanes and climate change; and energy issues in Texas.
- POLITICO + Morning Consult - Climate change and the environment remain core strengths for the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm elections, as Republican voters distrust their party on climate change more than on any other issue (Topline, Crosstabs)
- Climate Leadership Council + Americans for Carbon Dividends - Conservative-leaning groups’ analysis finds that core Republican voters want their members of Congress to address climate change (Release, Memo)
- Economist + YouGov - Americans are split on whether recent hurricanes are being caused by climate change (Topline, Crosstabs)
- [TX] Data for Progress + Texas Consumer Association - Texas voters continue to say that the state government isn’t doing enough to protect Texas from climate change, but are confused about who to blame for the state’s energy problems (Release, Topline)
- Climate change is driving a wedge between elected Republicans and Republican voters. POLITICO and Morning Consult find that climate change is the issue on which Republican voters are least likely to trust their own party, and a poll released by the conservative-leaning Climate Leadership Council and Americans for Carbon Dividends finds that the majority of reliable Republican voters want their members of Congress to address the issue. Whatever happens in next month’s midterm elections, there is clearly a sizable divide between Republican voters and their elected officials on climate change, and highlighting this divide can help advocates put pressure on conservative candidates and lawmakers.
- Amid a growing partisan split on perceptions of the weather, advocates can help by making the connections between climate change and hurricanes harder to deny. Economist/YouGov polling finds that Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether climate change is causing more severe hurricanes, and even whether hurricanes are becoming more severe or frequent in the first place. This hints at a deeper partisan divide than the environmental movement on its own can heal, but more education about the links between climate change and hurricanes can help the public to interpret these events more objectively. People currently don’t see as much of an intuitive connection between climate change and hurricanes as they do behind climate change and other types of extreme weather, leaving more room for politics to color their perceptions.
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
- [Climate Change] The majority of Americans (55%) recognize that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity [Economist/YouGov]
- [Climate Change + Conservatives] The majority of high-propensity, reliable Republican voters (54%) say it’s important for their member of Congress to work to address climate change [Climate Leadership Council + Americans for Carbon Dividends]
- [Issue Priority] More Americans name climate change and the environment as the single “most important issue” to them than any other issue besides inflation/prices, jobs/economy, health care, and abortion [Economist/YouGov]
- [Texas] By a 51%-34% margin Texas voters say that Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas state government aren’t doing enough to prepare Texas for the impacts of climate change [Data for Progress + Texas Consumer Association]
POLITICO + Morning Consult
Climate change and the environment remain core strengths for the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm elections, as Republican voters distrust their party on climate change more than on any other issue (Topline, Crosstabs)
The latest national tracking poll from POLITICO and Morning Consult finds that climate and the environment remain core issue strengths for the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm elections.
This finding has been consistent in polling throughout this electoral cycle, as polls have regularly shown that climate and the environment were the two biggest perceived issue strengths for Democrats.
Following the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, POLTICO and Morning Consult find that abortion access (Democrats +22) has now joined the environment (Democrats +23) and climate change (Democrats +24) to form a clear top tier of issues on which voters lean most toward the Democratic Party’s approach.
Here are the margins by which voters trust one party in Congress over the other to handle each issue included in the poll:
- Climate change - Democrats +24
- The environment - Democrats +23
- Abortion access - Democrats +22
- Health care - Democrats +15
- Protecting Medicare and Social Security - Democrats +15
- Coronavirus - Democrats +12
- Voting rights - Democrats +10
- Education - Democrats +8
- Energy - Democrats +6
- Gun policy - Democrats +3
- Jobs - Republicans +5
- Immigration - Republicans +6
- Crime - Republicans +7
- Inflation - Republicans +7
- The economy - Republicans +8
- National security - Republicans +9
The Democratic Party’s strengths on climate and the environment are driven in large part by Republican voters’ relative lack of faith in their own party to handle these issues.
Fewer than six in ten Republican voters (57%) say they trust Republicans in Congress over Democrats in Congress to handle climate change, the lowest percentage for any issue in the survey.
By contrast, 85%+ of Republican voters say they trust Republicans in Congress over Democrats to handle the economy, inflation, and national security. After climate change, abortion access (62%) and the environment (61%) are the two issues on which Republican voters are least likely to say they trust their own party.
Climate Leadership Council + Americans for Carbon Dividends
Also on the topic of Republican voters’ perceptions of their party on climate change, two conservative-leaning groups have released some findings from a September nationwide survey of high propensity, reliable Republican voters.
The Climate Leadership Council and Americans for Carbon Dividends report that the majority (54%) of core Republican voters say it’s important for their member of Congress to work to address climate change.
The poll additionally finds that core Republican voters broadly agree on climate action when it’s framed as protecting U.S. manufacturing. For example, over three-quarters (77%) say they would support “a joint effort between the U.S. and its allies to penalize products made from high carbon pollution countries like China, which would benefit more efficient American companies and their workers.” Additionally, 64% support a proposal to “charge a fee on imported goods from foreign countries based upon the carbon pollution that resulted from producing those goods.”
Economist + YouGov
The Economist and YouGov find that 55% of Americans believe that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, which is on par with what we’ve seen in other recent public polling. Meanwhile, 25% believe that the world’s climate is changing naturally, 9% deny that the world’s climate is changing at all, and 11% say they aren’t sure.
When asked whether recent severe hurricanes are “primarily the result of climate change” or just the “kinds of events that happen from time to time,” Americans are split nearly evenly: 41% believe that climate change is the primary cause, while 38% say that severe hurricanes “just happen from time to time.”
Previous Economist/YouGov polling has found that Americans see a more intuitive connection between climate change and hot or dry weather events like droughts or wildfires than hurricanes, so there’s much more education required to help the public understand the links between climate change and the severity and frequency of hurricanes.
Beliefs about the causes of recent hurricanes also correlate strongly with partisanship: nearly two-thirds of Democrats (66%) say that climate change is the primary cause of severe recent hurricanes, compared to just 35% of independents and only 20% of Republicans.
Partisanship even drives people’s reported observations of the weather when they aren’t explicitly being asked about climate change. The Economist and YouGov find that over half of Americans (51%) believe that hurricanes have become more severe than in the past, including over three-quarters of Democrats (77%) but just under half of independents (46%) and less than three in ten Republicans (28%).
Similarly, while a plurality of Americans (40%) believe that the number of severe hurricanes that form each season has increased, Democrats (60%) are far more likely to say that the number of severe hurricanes is increasing than independents (36%) or Republicans (23%).
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen clear evidence that the weather is being perceived through a partisan lens, as it’s become increasingly evident that partisans interpret the topic of “extreme weather” as a proxy for climate change.
Personal experiences appear to mitigate some of these partisan differences, however: Pew found this summer that most Americans who have personally experienced extreme weather, regardless of party, consider climate change to be a contributing factor.
[TX] Data for Progress + Texas Consumer Association
Data for Progress continues to find that Texas voters don’t believe that their state government is being responsive enough to the threats posed by climate change.
Previous Data for Progress polling in May found that 50% of Texas voters said that Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas state government were doing too little to prepare Texas for the impacts of climate change, compared to 35% who said that Abbott and the state government were doing enough. In this more recent poll, conducted in collaboration with the Texas Consumer Association, just over one-half (51%) say that Abbott and the state government are doing too little to prepare for climate change and only around one-third (34%) say they’re doing enough on the issue.
The new poll also illuminates how everyday people aren’t familiar with basic facts about the energy grid, such as who regulates it - even in a state with high-profile grid problems like Texas.
The poll finds that Texans who are experiencing higher home energy prices are about equally likely to say that President Biden (54%) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (56%), or ERCOT, deserve a “great deal” of blame for their higher energy bills. When they are informed that the Texas electricity grid is independent and therefore not subject to regulation by the federal government, however, Texas voters are 26 points more likely to say that ERCOT deserves a “great deal” of blame (65%) than President Biden (39%).
The Environmental Polling Consortium (EPC) is a collaborative hub for the environmental community to share and discover public opinion research.
If you’d like to learn more about the EPC or are interested in becoming a member with access to non-public polling, contact EPC Partnerships Manager Leah Zamesnik at firstname.lastname@example.org