Poll: GOP is not an anti-climate monolith


Just where do Republicans stand on climate change? Putting aside the noise of primary season for a moment, a new poll by Democracy Corps offers some interesting answers.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that the partisan divide over climate change has disappeared. Republicans are still more likely to doubt the reality or importance of climate change.

But it’s also wrong to think of the party as an anti-climate monolith.

The poll breaks Republicans down into four main blocks – Evangelicals (30%), Tea Partiers (17%), Observant Catholics (14%), and Moderates (31%). Each group was asked if the statement that “scientists agree that human activity is a significant factor in climate change” was a “fiction of the liberal media.”

The first two groups, which together make up nearly half of the Republican Party, embraced that idea. But both the Observant Catholics and Moderates, the other half, rejected the notion that media made it up. They accepted the scientific consensus on climate change. (Side note: It’s happening.)

But here’s another important take-away from the Democracy Corps poll: Even those who reject climate science are receptive to the idea of long-term investments in clean energy.

The pollsters report that the single most effective way for those outside the Republican Party to appeal to those in it is over the assertion that “our country should be making long-term investments so America can lead in the 21st century…America must modernize our infrastructure, expand our energy and Internet grid and ensure we lead in all scientific research.”

That’s a message tailor-made for those of us who think we should be moving toward a clean energy economy. With both the United States and China setting records for investments in renewables, and with so many jobs at stake, it’s easy to see this message having broad appeal.

By focusing on economic strength, we can begin to build a bridge across our growing partisan divide , and get things done. Because, like it or not, every major environmental law in American history was passed with bi-partisan majorities.

It doesn’t mean that we stop talking about climate change – that would be a mistake – but we can begin to reach out where we agree.

Keith Gaby

Keith Gaby

Explores the intersection of politics and climate change.

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Partisan politics rarely comes up in usual business discourse with our customers, but when it does our experience seems to mimic yours. Not all Republican-leaning people believe climate change is a hoax.

But, heck, in Cary North Carolina, there are plenty of Democrats who believe global warming is exaggerated by the media. Frankly, whether you believe that climate change is real or not has less to do with party politics and more to do with whether or not you trust science and scientists.

I'm scared that global warming is here and causing the slow death of our lovely planet. I'm scared that would take years for the Earth to heal itself from its irreversible damage, even if we stopped all pollution today. But we are not stopping, but unfortunately constantly emitting poisonous protective atmosphere-damaging toxins.

I'm very sad and depressed. I feel as an activist and nature lover humans who care have lost this battle. Global warming is here and all we can do is watch our dying planet slowly fall apart. God must being crying. His favorite planet is dying. Humans have done it.

It can't be undone and no one has stopped the polluting. People continue to selfishly, shortsightedly drive their carbon-emitting cars day and night.

Power of money and greed and Satan has won. God's beautiful earth is done. It's just a matter of time. There will no more life left on Earth.

Nothing you've said here indicates that the GOP leadership is softening its anti-climate science obstructionist blather. They clearly don't care about polling on climate change because what unites them all are the things they despise about the diverse America that President Obama represents and fosters.

Both Trump and Cruz are reinforcing the truth that fear, hate and bigotry are the most unifying forces in the American conservative movement. Climate change [action] and science are going nowhere with this antediluvian crowd.

Keni – You’re right, of course, that there is a partisan divide on the climate change issue. As you point out, it’s been glaring on the presidential campaign trail. That’s the reality. But it’s also a reality that we are unlikely to have 60 pro-environment senators, a pro-environment House majority, and a pro-environment president at the same time any time soon. It’s just historically rare. (Even when Democrats controlled all those power centers in 2009-2010, comprehensive climate legislation didn’t pass the Senate.) So we have to build toward a bi-partisan agreement, and the climate realists in the GOP are a substantial base from which to start. Hopefully once the primaries are over, we’ll get some more common-sense rhetoric on climate and clean energy. In the last seven years we’ve seen historic, nearly unforeseeable changes – hopefully climate issues will be added to the list of breakthroughs before too long.

I'm not sure what a "climate realist" is? So far all we hear and see in GOP proclamations and policy is climate denial. Climate denial is stunning; it is being able to see the consensus of 98% of climate scientists and anecdotal evidence everywhere around the world and state with authority that "they don't know what they're talking about... they got it wrong... they're getting paid by Al Gore... etc." The rest of the world - including Africa where we are doing business - is moving on while the U.S. is captive to a Proud Cult of Ignorance. At least in the 19th Century this cult had enough self-awareness to actually identify themselves as the Know Nothing Party.

While I do often find that Republicans do not believe that people are the main source of climate change, I think this article sends an important message. It's important that we do not automatically assume that a Republican is anti-climate change, because doing so may drive away a potential ally. It's important to keep an open dialogue, despite party preference, because if you show a Republican the hard facts about climate change, it may open their eyes.

Even though some scientists will say climate change is not happening (or that it's not due to people), if you do some research [you'll find] some of them have been paid off by Big Oil to say so. Research, research, research! Never stop learning, and never stop spreading the word, no matter who you are talking to!