If you are running for office, note that the majority of Americans think global warming is real, important, and can and should be addressed by government.
This has been happening since two elections back, when we started to see candidates threatened, if only to a limited degree, based on an untenable position on climate change. Last election cycle this became even more important as organizations like ClimateHawksVote had remarkable successes in supporting climate hawk candidates — candidates that place climate change at the top of the list of important issues. Since then even more has happened, including changes in the way broadcast media addresses climate change (the false balance is melting away) and various and sundry activities in the US Congress (see this). All along the way polls have indicated that Americans are increasingly accepting of the consensus climate science, and increasingly concerned about climate change. Having 2014 as the warmest year on record, and all of the 10 or 15 warmest years (depending on how you like to count) having happened in the most recent decades has probably added to this.
Now, there is a new poll by the New York Times and Stanford University that shows that most Americans support “government action to curb global warming.” Not only that, but a large number of Republicans, who are generally directed by their leaders to not accept climate change science, are on board as well.
According to the poll, 78% of Americans believe that global warming will be a serious problem in the future. Only 10% think it is not serious at all. Similarly, 83% of Americans indicate that global warming will be serious world wide. 56% of Americans think global warming has hurt them personally, though most of them feel it has done so to a moderate amount or “a little.” 78% of Americans think global warming has not helped them. A full 85% of Americans think global warming will hurt future generations.
About 42% of those polled think that doing something in the US about global warming will help the US economy, 24% think it would be neutral, and only 30% think it would hurt.
Regarding elections, and candidates, 66% would be more likely (21% say no effect) to vote for a candidate that has a strong issue statement on global warming, saying it is real, matters, and that we need to shift to new forms of energy.
13% of Americans, by contrast, would be more likely to vote for a candidate that expresses the position that global warming is a hoax and a fraud. 67% would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.
78% think greenhouse gasses should be limited.
The poll asks far more questions than I just summarized.
When these questions are asked of just Republicans, similar but weaker support for the reality of the science and the importance of taking action are found.
For example, when asked if global warming be a problem for the United States:
Of all respondents, 78% say somewhat to very serious. Of Republicans, 54% say somewhat to very serious. Also, among all respondants, among the youngest age group (18-29) 85% say somewhat to very serious, with 47% indicating very serious.
That pattern, with something close to a majority of Republicans, a strong majority of all respondents, and a very strong majority of younger respondents, stating that global warming is real, should be addressed, should require government action, and matters in their voting preferences, holds.
The bottom line is that accepting the science and calling for action is the position that will garner more support among Americans, though as expected, this does not hold for the Tea Party. A majority of Tea Party “members” do think global warming is serious, and even feel that it will hurt. But a strong majority also feel that if nothing is done to reduce global warming that this will not help future generations. A slim minority of Tea Parties would support a Climate Hawk candidate. Candidates claiming global warming is a hoax do not garner huge support from the Tea Party. But, 49% would be more likely to vote for a candidate who claims “I am not a scientist.” So I guess that ploy plays.