A new poll on climate change and political views

12.13.2017

Report coverA new report from the Yale Program on Climate Communication offers new data on Americans' beliefs and attitudes about climate change, with a particular emphasis on the influence of political views.

Asked "Do you think that global warming is happening?" 72% of registered voters responding answered yes, 12% answered no, and 15% answered don't know. According to the full report (PDF), those answering yes included "97% of liberal Democrats, 89% of moderate/conservative Democrats and 63% of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only 37% of conservative Republicans. Belief that global warming is happening has declined among Republicans since the 2016 election."

Presented with "Assuming global warming is happening, do you think it is ..." and asked to complete the sentence, 54% of registered voters responding preferred "Caused mostly by human activities," 33% preferred "Caused mostly by natural changes in the environment," 6% volunteered "Caused by both human activities and natural changes," and 5% preferred "Neither because global warming isn't happening." Opinion was politically divided, with a majority of Democrats but a minority of Republicans accepting human responsibility.

Presented with "Schools should teach our children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming," 79% of registered voters responding agreed (41% strongly, 38% somewhat) and 21% disagreed (10% somewhat, 11% strongly). Agreement was the majority position among all political positions, except for conservative Republicans, who split about evenly between agreement (49%) and disagreement (50%); liberal and moderate/conservative Democrats were almost unanimous in agreement (97% and 95%).

The data were based on a nationally representative survey of 1,304 American adults, aged 18 and older, 1109 of whom who were registered to vote. The survey was conducted October 20-November 1, 2017. The average margin of error for the full sample and the registered voter subset was +/- 3%.