Most Americans support government action to combat the effects of global warming and will likely vote for candidates who put forth a promising stance on environmental issues, a new poll has found.
The telephone poll — conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future — surveyed 1,006 adults across the nation from Jan. 7 to 22. Participants were asked questions such as whether they think climate change is human-caused, if global warming is perceived as a serious threat and if they have strong opinions on the matter. Respondents were also probed about government-related issues, including whether they think the government should limit greenhouse gases and how a candidate’s opinion on climate change affects their vote.
The poll found that eight in 10 Americans think that climate change is human-caused, including 88 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Independents and 71 percent of Republicans. Roughly two-thirds of Americans also said a candidate's stance on global warming influences how they vote, which has implications for the 2016 presidential campaigns. The findings suggest a growing concern nationwide, as the public worries about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. [The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted]
A chasm remains among parties
But even though the majority of the Americans polled said they are concerned about climate change, there are still some divisions along party lines.
Sixty-three percent of the Democrats polled said that the issue was very important to them personally. However, 40 percent of Independents, and only 18 percent of Republicans, said the same.
Yet regardless of whether the issue is important to them personally, many respondents said they see global warming as a major threat. A majority of Americans — 83 percent, in fact — think that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a serious problem in the future. This includes 61 percent of Republicans.
In addition, 71 percent of Americans expect that they will be personally hurt by climate change in their lifetimes.
How will you vote?
All in all, 77 percent of Americans think the federal government should be working hard to fight climate change. This includes 90 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents and 48 percent of Republicans.
The findings should have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign. The poll found that roughly two-thirds of Americans are more likely to vote for political candidates who intend to fight climate change. Although most said it wouldn't be the deciding factor, they said it would be influential in their vote.
Overall, 67 percent of respondents said they'd be less likely to vote for a candidate who doesn’t think climate change is human-caused. This includes 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Independents.
The researchers said the margin of error on each question is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll's results were published online today.