CLIMATE CHANGE OPINIONS REBOUND AMONG REPUBLICAN VOTERS: Bipartisan support for climate & clean energy policies remains strong

May 8, 2018 – (New Haven, CT) A new nationally representative survey finds that since Fall 2017, Republican registered voters have become more convinced that human-caused global warming is happening and are more worried and supportive of several climate policies.

Among Republican registered voters, belief that global warming is happening has increased 4 percentage points, while belief that it is mostly human-caused has increased 9 percentage points since the Fall of 2017. Republicans are also more worried about global warming than they were in the Fall (+5 points).

“It appears that the ‘Trump Effect’ – in which Republican opinions on climate change declined after the 2016 election – has bottomed out. Republican opinions have rebounded – in some cases to new record highs,” said co-lead investigator Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University. “Republican support for strict carbon dioxide limits on existing coal-fired power plants increased 9 points and support for requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a revenue-neutral carbon tax rose 7 points since Fall 2017.”

More broadly, public support for a variety of climate and clean energy policies remains strong and bipartisan. Large majorities of registered voters support:

  • Funding more research on renewable energy (87% support), including 94% of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 79% of Republicans.
  • Generating renewable energy on public land (86% support), including 91% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 81% of Republicans.
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (85% support), including 91% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 77% of Republicans (+6 points since Fall 2017).
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (81% support), including 91% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 69% of Republicans (+8 points since Fall 2017).

Few registered voters think the United States should use more coal (12%; 6% of Democrats, 14% of Independents, and 18% of Republicans) or oil in the future (11%; 7% of Democrats, and 16% of both Independents and Republicans).

By contrast, solid majorities of registered Democrats, Independents, and Republicans say the United States should use more solar energy (80%; 84% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans) and wind energy in the future (73%; 82% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 62% of Republicans).

Regarding the 2018 Congressional election, 38% of registered voters say a candidates’ position on global warming will be very important when they decide who they will vote for. When asked how important 28 different issues would be in determining who they vote for in the 2018 election, registered voters ranked global warming 15th overall. But among liberal Democrats, global warming was voting issue #4, after healthcare, gun policies, and environmental protection more generally.


“Global warming is now a leading issue among the Democratic base, said co-lead investigator Dr. Ed Maibach of George Mason University. “Despite the increase in Republican beliefs and attitudes over the past 6 months, however, it remains a low priority issue among Republicans.”

The findings come from a nationally representative survey (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The survey of 1,278 American adults, aged 18 and older, was conducted March 7 – 24, 2018 on the GfK KnowledgePanel.

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Endeavor Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

In addition to Drs. Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach, principal investigators included Drs. Connie Roser-Renouf and John Kotcher of George Mason University, and Drs. Seth Rosenthal and Matthew Cutler of Yale University.

For questions about the survey, please contact:

Anthony Leiserowitz, 203-432-4865,
Edward Maibach, 703-993-1587,