Increasing numbers of American voters think global warming is happening, and many say the issue will influence how they vote in November, according to a nationally-representative survey (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted last month by the Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Centre for Climate Change Communication
Voters who say global warming is happening – now at 73% – have increased 7% since Spring 2014. Nearly all liberal Democrats (95%) think global warming is happening, as do about three in four moderate/conservative Democrats (80%), Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points). While only about half of conservative Republicans (47%) think global warming is happening, they have experienced the largest upward shift of any group, an increase of 19 percentage points over the past two years.
The COP21 agreement, the record-warm winter, and media coverage have likely contributed to growing public awareness. Our studies also find that Pope Francis, with his call for climate action, had an impact on the American climate change conversation.
Global warming is also a factor in the presidential election. Candidates supporting climate action will earn votes, while candidates opposing climate action risk losing votes. Two in three Democrats and half of Independents say global warming will be among the important issues determining their vote for President in the fall.
Other key findings include:
- American voters are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming. Registered voters are three times more likely to vote for (43%, up 7 percentage points since October, 2015) than against (14%) such a candidate.
- American voters are less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes taking action to reduce global warming. Registered voters are four times more likely to vote against such a candidate, than to vote for them (45% vs. 11%, respectively).
- Two thirds of Democrats (67%; 78% of liberals and 55% of moderates/ conservatives) and half of Independents (49%) say global warming will be among several important issues they consider when determining their vote for president this year.
Majorities of American voters support policies to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, and to promote clean energy. For example, more than two in three voters support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes such as income taxes by an equal amount (68% of all registered voters, 86% of Democrats, 66% of Independents, and 47% of Republicans).