Yale Poll: Swing Voters Want Action on Climate
September 24, 2012
Only about 7 percent of likely voters have not yet decided whether they will support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, a new national survey finds. But on the topic of climate change, at least, these undecideds look more like Obama supporters than Romney voters.
Undecided voters are more likely than Romney voters to see climate change as an important issue, and their desire for government action approaches levels seen in Obama voters. What’s more, undecideds are as likely as Obama supporters to believe that global warming is happening and that humans are causing it.
“We were surprised to look at how undecided voters broke on this issue, that they were much more similar to Obama voters than they were to Romney voters,” study researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication, told LiveScience.
The new survey queried a nationally representative sample of 1,061 American adults, who filled out an online questionnaire on their voting plans and their climate-change beliefs. People chosen to be on the survey panel who did not own a computer or have an Internet connection were given one, ensuring that older and poorer Americans were not left out of the sample.
For Romney and Obama voters, the margin of error of the findings is plus or minus 5 percentage points. For undecided voters, the margin of error is plus or minus 11 percentage points.
Sixty-one percent of the undecided voters said they see global warming as an “important issue” they’ll consider when making their choice. Seventy-five percent of Obama supporters said the same, as did 32 percent of likely Romney voters. In many ways, undecided voters match likely Obama voters with their climate-change concern: 80 percent believe the globe is warming, compared with 86 percent of Obama voters. (In contrast, 45 percent of Romney voters accept that global warming is happening.) [10 Climate Myths Busted]
Global warming is an important issue for undecided voters and likely Obama voters when voting for President
Though few likely voters say global warming is the “single-most important” issue to them in this election, majorities of likely Obama voters (75%) and Undecideds (61%) say it will be one of several important issues determining their vote for President. Only 32% of likely Romney voters say it will be one of the “important issues” determining their vote.
Desire for Presidential and Congressional action
Undecided voters and likely Obama voters say that President Obama (64% and 61% respectively) and Congress (72% and 78%) should be “doing more” about global warming. By contrast, fewer than half of likely Romney voters think the President or Congress should be doing more (35% and 35% respectively) and, in fact, are more inclined to say they should be doing less to address global warming (47% and 44%).
Bipartisan agreement that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources
There is broad agreement among all likely voters – 85% of likely Obama voters, 83% of undecided voters, and 73% of likely Romney voters – that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, and geothermal) in the future.
However, while more than half of Undecideds and likely Obama voters say that in the future the U.S. should use fewer fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas (55% and 65% respectively), fewer than half of likely Romney voters agree (38%).
Is global warming happening?
80% of undecided voters believe that global warming is happening, while only 3% believe it is not happening – which is very similar to likely Obama voters (86% and 4% respectively). By contrast, 45% of likely Romney voters believe global warming is happening. In fact, one out of three likely Romney voters believes it is not happening.
The cause of global warming
Two out of three Undecideds (65%) believe that if global warming is happening, it is mostly human caused, the same as likely Obama voters (65%). Only 27% of likely Romney voters, however, believe that global warming is mostly human caused, while fully half say global warming is caused by natural changes in the environment.