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Politics & Global Warming, May 2017


5. Individual and Collective Action to Reduce Global Warming

5.1. One in five registered voters think people can affect what the government does about global warming.

Perceptions of collective efficacy regarding global warming – the belief that like-minded citizens can work together to influence government action on global warming – is an important motivator for individuals to take action.Bandura, A. (2000). Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(3), 75-78. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00064 Only about one in five registered voters (22%) think that people like them, working together, can affect what the government does about global warming “a great deal” or “a lot.”

Registered voters across the political spectrum, including 27% of Democrats, 23% of Independents, and 17% of Republicans, have similar efficacy beliefs when it comes to affecting what the government does about global warming.

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5.2. A majority of registered voters would vote for a candidate because of their position on global warming.

Half or more registered voters, if asked by a person they like and respect, would sign a petition about global warming (55%) or vote for a candidate for public office because of their position on global warming (52%).

Three in ten registered voters or more would donate money to an organization working on global warming (35%), write letters, email, or phone government officials about global warming (31%), or meet with elected officials or their staff about global warming (30%). One in four or fewer would attend a political rally, speech, or organized protest about global warming (25%) or write a letter to the editor or call a live radio or TV show to express an opinion about global warming (22%).

A majority of Democrats and Independents would sign a petition (76% and 63% respectively) or vote for a candidate because of their global warming position (71% and 57%), and a majority of Democrats would donate money to a global warming organization (54%). Republicans, by contrast, would be much less likely to take these actions.

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5.3. Three in ten liberal Democrats have urged an elected official to take action to reduce global warming during the past 12 months.

Only one in eight registered voters (12%) have contacted an elected official during the past 12 months to urge them to take action to reduce global warming. However, about one in five Democrats (21%, +9 percentage points from March 2016), including three in ten liberal Democrats (29%, +13 points) have done so (see Tables). Fourteen percent of Independents (+8 points) and thirteen percent of moderate/conservative Democrats (+5 points) have also done this. Just one in twenty Republicans (4%, including 5% of conservative Republicans) have done so.

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5.4. Three in ten registered voters are participating, or would participate, in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming.

Three in ten registered voters (31%) are participating, or would participate, in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming. The includes about half of Democrats (49%; 59% of liberal Democrats and 39% of moderate/conservative Democrats) and three in ten Independents (30%). Only about one in ten Republicans (11%) are participating, or would participate, in such a campaign.

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5.5. More than three in four registered voters have never been asked to contact elected officials about global warming.

More than three in four registered voters (78%) say nobody has ever asked them to contact officials about global warming. This is true across the political spectrum, including large majorities of Democrats (78%; 70% of liberal Democrats and 86% of moderate/conservative Democrats), Independents (70%), and Republicans (78%; 83% of liberal/moderate Republicans and 77% of conservative Republicans).

Half or more registered voters say that contacting elected officials about global warming wouldn’t make any difference (64%), they do not contact elected officials because they are not an activist (62%), they don’t know which elected officials to contact (52%), or they wouldn’t know what to say (51%).

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5.6. Two in three registered voters have never been contacted by an organization working to reduce global warming.

Two in three registered voters (67%) they have never been contacted by an organization working to reduce global warming. This is true across the political spectrum, including Democrats (65%; 59% of liberal Democrats and 70% of moderate/conservative Democrats), Independents (60%), and Republicans (71%).

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