Nearly half of Republicans said they were more likely to support a political candidate who believes in human-caused global warming and who advocates action to stop its effects on the environment, a new poll released by Stanford University, The New York Times and environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future shows.
Asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who believed “global warming has been happening for the past 100 years,” primarily because of humans’ “burning fuels and putting out greenhouse gases,” some 48 percent of Republican respondents said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, compared with 24 percent who said they would be less likely to do so; 26 percent said it would have no effect.
While the poll surveyed a sampling of Americans across party lines, the finding about Republican voter preferences was called “the most powerful finding” of the entire survey by co-author and Stanford University professor Jon Krosnick, given that a New York Times poll conducted with CBS in September showed that 42 percent of Republicans said global warming was an environmental problem “that won’t have a serious impact.”
Thirty-five percent of Republicans also said that global warming would present a “somewhat serious” problem for the world if nothing is done to reduce its impacts in the future, while 26 percent said the consequences would be “very serious.”
As for what to do about global warming, Republicans overwhelmingly opposed increasing taxes on electricity and gasoline so that people use less, but favored giving tax breaks to companies to produce more electricity from water, wind and solar power as well as rewarding companies that burn coal to make electricity with tax breaks if they used new methods to reduce air pollution.
That sentiment was also shared by Americans across party lines, with 80 percent of people surveyed saying they favored giving tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind and solar power. Still, 74 percent of Americans said they opposed increasing taxes on electricity and on gasoline.
Among all Americans surveyed in the poll, 44 percent said that if nothing was done to combat global warming, it would become a “very serious” problem for the United States, while 57 percent said the consequences would be “very serious” for the world.
Meanwhile, the findings about Republican voter preferences show a marked contrast with the public record of many Republican politicians, many of whom have either denied the science of climate change or distanced themselves from it, saying in many cases that they do not have the expertise to issue an opinion.
The Republican-controlled Senate acknowledged in a vote earlier this month that climate change is real, but refused to say humans are to blame amid a series of votes that tested Republicans’ stance on global warming. In a surprise move, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma endorsed a measure drafted by Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse that read simply that, "Climate change is real and not a hoax." It passed 98-1.
But Inhofe quickly made clear that he still thought humans were not to blame.
"Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will. There is archaeological evidence of that, there is biblical evidence of that, there is historical evidence of that," said Inhofe. But "there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate."
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press