Executive Summary

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (N = 1,291; including 1,097 registered voters), this report describes how Democratic, Independent, and Republican registered voters view global warming, climate and energy policies, and personal and collective action.

Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes

  • Most registered voters (70%) think global warming is happening, including 95% of liberal Democrats, 87% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 63% of liberal/moderate Republicans. Only 38% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening.
  • A majority of registered voters (55%) think global warming is caused mostly by human activities. This includes 86% of liberal Democrats, 71% of moderate/conservative Democrats, but fewer than half of liberal/moderate Republicans (46%), and only 21% of conservative Republicans.
  • Six in ten registered voters (61%) are worried about global warming, including 93% of liberal Democrats (an increase of five percentage points since our March 2018 survey), 81% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 54% of liberal/moderate Republicans. Only about one in five conservative Republicans (21%) are worried, a nine-point decrease since March 2018.

Global Warming and Energy Policies

Respondents were asked how much they support three different strategies governments can use to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. Large majorities of registered voters across the political spectrum support:

  • Investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure (which reduces pollution by making clean energy cheaper; 87%)
  • Regulating pollution (legally require companies to limit the amount of pollution they emit; 82%)
  • Taxing pollution (require companies to pay a tax on the pollution they emit, which encourages them to reduce their emissions; 72%).

Majorities of registered voters also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. These include:

  • A Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax. Described as: “Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes (such as income tax) by an equal amount (67% of registered voters, 85% of Democrats, 66% of Independents, and 46% of Republicans).
  • Fee and Dividend. Described as: “Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a fee on carbon pollution, and distributing the money collected to all U.S. citizens, in equal amounts, through monthly dividend checks” (59% of registered voters, 75% of Democrats, 58% of Independents, and 41% of Republicans).
  • The Clean Power Plan. Described as: “Setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase” (69% of registered voters, 87% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 50% of Republicans).

Large majorities of registered voters also support:

  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power (86% of registered voters, 96% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 77% of Republicans).
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (84% of registered voters, 94% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans).
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (74% of registered voters, 91% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 57% of Republicans).

Fewer registered voters support policies to increase fossil-fuel production:

  • About half of registered voters support expanding drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast (53% of registered voters, 33% of Democrats, 46% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans).
  • Only one in three registered voters support drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (33% of registered voters, 19% of Democrats, 34% of Independents, and 50% of Republicans).


  • Many registered voters (45%) would support a U.S. president declaring global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
  • A large majority of registered voters (77%; 94% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans) support schools teaching children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming.

The Green New Deal

A broad policy initiative aimed at reducing global warming, the Green New Deal, is supported by a majority of registered voters (69%), including 93% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 44% of Republicans. Additionally:

  • Majorities of registered voters support paying for the Green New Deal by cutting spending in other areas of government (65%), raising taxes on corporations (64%), and/or raising taxes on the wealthiest households (62%). In contrast, only about one in four of registered voters (24%) support paying for the Green New Deal by adding to the federal budget deficit.
  • By a margin of 14 percentage points, registered voters think the Green New Deal would be more likely to increase (35%) than decrease (21%) the total number of jobs in the U.S., but many other registered voters don’t know (32%). Similarly, more registered voters think the Green New Deal would help the economy (36%) than hurt the economy (26%), while 29% don’t know.
  • A majority of Democrats (69%) think the Green New Deal would save the U.S. at least as much as it would cost by limiting the damage caused by global warming, but only 37% of Independents and 22% of Republicans think so (45% of all registered voters). Similarly, 65% of Democrats, but only 33% of Independents and 21% of Republicans, think the Green New Deal would pay for itself through increased revenue generated by jobs and economic growth (42% of all registered voters).
  • More registered voters think Congressional policies to solve global warming should be part of a broader program that also addresses issues such as jobs, education, and healthcare (45%) than think the policies should focus on global warming alone (16%).

Global Warming as a Voting Issue

  • Nearly four in ten registered voters (38%) say a candidates’ position on global warming will be very important when they decide who they will vote for in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Of 29 issues asked about, registered voters indicated that global warming was the 17th most important voting issue. However, it was the third most important issue for liberal Democrats and the eighth most important issue for moderate/conservative Democrats.

Acting on Global Warming

  • Across party lines, a majority of registered voters say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming (72% of registered voters, 89% of Democrats, 77% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans).
  • At least half of registered voters think citizens (67%), the U.S. Congress (63%), the Republican Party (62%), President Trump (62%), their own member of Congress (61%), their governor (58%), local government officials (58%), the Democratic Party (57%), and/or the media (53%) should do more to address global warming.
  • Half of registered voters (50%) think global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, including a majority of Democrats (81%), but fewer Independents (47%) and Republicans (16%).

Individual and Collective Action

  • Half of registered voters (51%) say they would vote for a candidate for public office because of the candidate’s position on global warming. Fewer say they would participate in other organized efforts to address global warming, including: contacting a government official about global warming (31%), donating money to an organization working on global warming (31%), meeting with an elected official or their staff about global warming (30%), and/or volunteering for an organization working on global warming (29%).
  • A total of about one in four registered voters (27%) say they are currently participating (2%), definitely would participate (7%), or probably would participate (19%) in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming (including 42% of Democrats but only 26% of Independents and 11% of Republicans).
  • However, relatively few registered voters (11%) say they have actually contacted an elected official during the past 12 months to urge them to take action to reduce global warming, although 23% of liberal Democrats say they have done so.