This brief report draws upon data from our latest national survey (September 2012) to investigate this question: On balance, do political leaders stand to benefit, or not, from talking about and supporting action to address global warming?
In short, we found:
Concern about the effects of climate change is high across political groups, with majorities of Democrats and Independents expressing concern about global warming and its potential harm for themselves and future generations.
Across party lines, there is support for taking action to reduce global warming, with pluralities of all groups favoring medium-scale efforts. Even among Republicans, a sizeable majority support making some effort to address global warming.
Independents more closely resemble Democrats in their attitudes and beliefs about global warming, and like Democrats,most support efforts to address the problem. Thus, the issue of global warming is a political opportunity to connect with most Independents.
A majority of registered voters (58%) say they will consider candidates’ position on global warming when deciding how to vote.
Policies to promote renewable energy are favored by the majority of voters across party lines. Majorities support eliminating federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, but oppose ending subsidies to the renewable energy industry. Instead, solid majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support funding more research into renewable energy sources.
Registered voters support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. They are also willing to support a candidate who promotes a carbon tax but this depends on how the money is used. Candidates garner greater support when the money is used to create jobs, decrease pollution, or pay down the national debt compared to giving a tax refund to American families.
Democratic and Independent majorities want Congress and President Obama to do more to address global warming, as do increasing numbers of Republicans.