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Executive Summary

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (N = 1,303; including 1,114 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 (73%) think global warming is happening, including 95% of liberal Democrats, 89% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 66% of liberal/moderate Republicans. Only 41% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening.
  • A majority of registered voters (59%) think global warming is caused mostly by human activities. This includes 84% of liberal Democrats, 72% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and about half of liberal/moderate Republicans (51%), but only 25% of conservative Republicans.
  • Two in three registered voters (66%) are worried about global warming, including 94% of liberal Democrats, 88% of moderate/conservative Democrats (an increase of 20 percentage points over the past five years), and 53% of liberal/moderate Republicans. Only about one in four conservative Republicans (26%) are worried.

Global Warming and Energy Policies

Majorities of registered voters support 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” – was supported by 69% of registered voters (87% of Democrats, 58% of Independents, and 48% 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” – was supported by 59% of registered voters (77% of Democrats, 51% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans).

Large majorities of registered voters also support:

  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind (87% of registered voters, 96% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 77% of Republicans).
  • Generating renewable energy on public land in the U.S. (86% of registered voters, 94% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 79% of Republicans).
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (82% of registered voters, 95% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans).
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (75% of registered voters, 92% of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans).

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

  • Expanding oil and natural gas drilling off the U.S. coast (47% of registered voters, 30% of Democrats, 37% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans).
  • Drilling and mining fossil fuels on public land in the U.S. (43% of registered voters, 26% of Democrats, 34% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans).
  • Drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (29% of registered voters, 16% of Democrats, 30% of Independents, and 46% of Republicans).

Additionally:

  • Many registered voters (62%; 85% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 35% of Republicans) would support a U.S. president declaring global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act. Support among all registered voters increased by 17 percentage points during the seven months since our previous survey in April 2019.
  • A large majority of registered voters (79%; 96% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 57% of Republicans) support schools teaching children the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming.

The Paris Climate Agreement

  • About three in four registered voters (76%; 94% of Democrats, 74% of Independents, and 54% of Republicans) support U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. Majorities of Democrats (92%) and Independents (66%) also oppose President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Agreement.

Global Warming as a Voting Issue

  • More than four in ten registered voters (45%) say a candidate’s 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 is the 11th most highly ranked voting issue (based on the percentage saying it is “very important”), six ranks higher than in April 2019 when it was the 17th most important issue. Global warming is the 3rd most highly ranked issue for liberal Democrats and the 7th most highly ranked issue for moderate/conservative Democrats.
  • When then asked to choose their most important issue when voting for a candidate, seven percent of registered voters chose global warming, making it the 5th highest ranked most important issue. Global warming is the #1 most important issue for liberal Democrats (17%) and #5 among moderate/conservative Democrats (8%).

Acting on Global Warming

  • Across party lines, a majority of registered voters say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming (74% of registered voters, 92% of Democrats, 69% of Independents, and 51% of Republicans).
  • At least half of registered voters think citizens (68%), the U.S. Congress (66%), the Republican Party (66%), President Trump (65%), their own member of Congress (63%), the Democratic Party (61%), local government officials (59%), their governor (59%), and/or the media (55%) should do more to address global warming.
  • A majority of Democrats (83%), about half of Independents (53%), but only about one in five Republicans (22%) think global warming should be a very high or high priority for the president and Congress. Developing sources of clean energy has even stronger support across party lines (89% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans think it should be a very high or high priority).