Growing Numbers of American Voters Think Global Warming is Happening. Many Say the Issue Will be Important to their Vote in the Fall Elections

For Immediate Release – Contact: Bessie Schwarz, 973-493-5647,


– Conservative Republicans at odds with the rest of the country –

April 26, 2016 – (New Haven, CT) A new national survey conducted in March finds that a growing number of voters think global warming is happening (73%, up 7 points since Spring 2014).

Nearly all liberal Democrats (95%) think global warming is happening, as do about three in four moderate/conservative Democrats (80%), Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points).

Image for An Increasing Number of Americans Think Global Warming Is Happening
Image for An Increasing Number of Americans Think Global Warming Is Happening

By contrast, only about half of conservative Republicans (47%) think global warming is happening. However, there has been a large increase in the number of conservative Republicans who think global warming is happening.  In fact, conservative Republicans have experienced the largest shift of any group—an increase of 19 percentage points over the past two years.

“More American voters understand that global warming is real, including conservative Republicans. The COP21 agreement, the unusually warm winter, and media coverage have likely contributed to growing public awareness,” said lead-researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD of Yale University. “Our studies also find that Pope Francis, with his call for climate action, has had an impact on the American climate change conversation.”

Other key findings include:

  • American voters are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming.Registered voters are three times more likely to vote for (43%, up 7 percentage points since October, 2015) than against (14%) such a candidate.
  • American voters are less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes taking action to reduce global warming. Registered voters are four times more likely to vote against such a candidate, than to vote for them (45% vs. 11%, respectively).
  • Two thirds of Democrats (67%; 78% of liberals and 55% of moderates/ conservatives) and half of Independents (49%) say global warming will be among several important issues they consider when determining their vote for president this year.
  • Majorities of American voters support policies to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, and to promote clean energy. For example, more than two in three voters support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes such as income taxes by an equal amount (68% of all registered voters, 86% of Democrats, 66% of Independents, and 47% of Republicans).

“While climate change is not a primary voting issue for most Americans in the upcoming election, it does appear that candidates supporting climate action will earn votes, while candidates opposing climate action risk losing votes,” said lead-researcher Edward Maibach, PhD. “In fact, two in three Democrats and half of Independents say global warming will be among the important issues determining their vote for President in the fall.”

These 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 1,004 American adults, aged 18 and older, was conducted March 18-31, 2016. All questionnaires were self-administered by respondents in a web-based environment. The survey took, on average, about 24 minutes to complete.

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

In addition to Drs. Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach, principal investigators included Dr. Connie Roser-Renouf of George Mason University, and Geoff Feinberg and Dr. Seth Rosenthal of Yale University.

For questions about the survey, please contact:

Anthony Leiserowitz, 203-432-4865,

Edward Maibach, 703-993-1587,

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