Mandatory Cuts in Carbon Pollution Favored by Over 70% of Voters and Small Businesses — and Even 49% of Fox Viewers

This week, the League of Conservation Voters released polling by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies demonstrating very strong support for EPA efforts to reduce global warming pollution.  They found:

Fully 71 percent indicate support for requiring reductions in carbon emissions, including a solid majority of Republican voters….

Despite the rhetoric coming from most of the Republican presidential candidates, this poll demonstrates what previous research has consistently shown: Americans across the country – including Republican voters – trust the EPA to limit global warming pollution,” said LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Navin Nayak.

These results are consistent with over a dozen polls taken in the last 2 years (see Poll (6/11): Independents — and Even Republicans — are Still Concerned About Global Warming and Overwhelmingly Support Clean Energy Development and links below).  Here’s more detail:

Support for “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring reductions in carbon emissions from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming pollution” is wide-spread and broad-based.  Majorities of a wide range of key voter sub-groups support this, including:

  • Among Republicans (55 percent support), Independents (72 percent support), and Democrats (89 percent support); and
  • Among viewers of CNN (87 percent support), MSNBC (86 percent support), ABC/CBS/NBC (81 percent support), and Fox News (49 percent support).

Here’s the chart on different levels of support for EPA global warming pollution standards for viewers of different networks:

As to the question of whether Fox News influences their viewers’ views or whether people with those (conservative) views simply choose to watch Fox, the answer from the social science literature is “both” as I discussed in my debunking of Matt Nisbet’s misanalysis.

Jon Krosnick of Stanford analyzes this in “Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists’ Views of Global Warming.”  Krosnick notes that his “Figure 1 shows how more exposure to Fox News was associated with less endorsement of the views of mainstream scientists about global warming,” and says while he can’t know for sure whether people were persuaded by Fox or selectively chose Fox:

We therefore suspect that the relations documented in Figure 1 are likely to result from a combination of persuasion by Fox News coverage and of selective exposure by Republicans and conservative viewers to Fox News.

Another study  “Climate on Cable: The Effects of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on Global Warming Beliefs and Perceptions,” led by Feldman found that “the views of Republicans on climate change may be less solidified than Democrats, thereby making them more easily influenced by the content of cable news,” specifically Fox News.  Feldman’s study itself explicitly says its findings are “suggestive of direct persuasion, whereby the views of conservative-Republicans are reflective of the cable news outlet they watch.”

So two key papers find that the viewers of Fox News’ biased climate coverage are less likely to accept scientists’ views of global warming — and that direct persuasion appears to have played a role in shifting their views (see also “Foxgate: Leaked email reveals Fox News boss Bill Sammon ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science”).

As for the polling on the views of small business owners, E&E News (subs. req’d) reports:

Earlier this week, the organization Small Business Majority released the results of a similar poll among its members: Despite an uncertain economy, 76 percent of small business owners support EPA in its efforts to track and eventually curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

The small business survey concluded that most of the 1,257 small business owners who were polled believe that rising costs, not regulations, are making it harder to make ends meet. The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

“Small businesses understand that to survive in this tough economy they need to innovate, and that strong energy efficiency standards will assist them in doing so by helping them save money in their own business and creating new market opportunities,” said John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, in a statement. “Right now, helping small businesses grow and put Americans back to work should be the number one priority.”

… Edward Maibach, the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University … released a similar poll, with the question “How much do you support or oppose regulating carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant?” The segment in support — 77 percent — was almost identical to that in the Small Business Majority study.

Small Business Majority, a California-based advocacy group, released a similar report a year ago, in conjunction with the Main Street Alliance. The report’s authors found that the economic benefits reaped from the Clean Air Act were four to eight times greater than costs to comply

The public has consistently supported the need for controlling global warming pollution for years.  Sadly, the White House remains clueless on this (see Polling Expert: Is Obama’s Reluctance to Mention Climate Change Motivated by a False Assumption About Public Opinion?)

Related Polls:

“Political candidates get more votes by taking a “green” position on climate change – acknowledging that global warming is occurring, recognizing that human activities are at least partially to blame and advocating the need for action – according to a June 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University.”

7 Responses to Mandatory Cuts in Carbon Pollution Favored by Over 70% of Voters and Small Businesses — and Even 49% of Fox Viewers

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    So much for the argument that politicians are just catering to the ignorant voters. It appears that it’s the big money that they really want to please.

    The Democrats could destroy the Republicans if they stuck to their historical principles and then ran a TV ad campaign featuring Republican deniers. Included would be clips showing flip flops by McCain, Pawlenty, and Romney. The next ad would show the Republicans fighting for wealthy Americans’ tax breaks. This would all show even the most casual voter who actually wears the pants in the Republican Party.

    If the Democrats instead start saying things like “We cut taxes too”, or more repressed homoerotic rhapsodizing about “the troops”, they will lose. Deservedly so.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    Wow, The Enlightenment.

  3. BillD says:

    What about people like me who get most of their news from PBS. PBS usually know a scientist (expert) from a crackpot, so I guess that PBS viewers would be high on the supporting group.

  4. Pangolin` says:

    The actual shocking bit is that people who watch Fox news somehow manage to glean out enough information to come to a conclusion in line with actual science.

    That does provide some hope that the general population can understand the risks and challenges of climate change in time to take some effective action.

  5. AlanInAz says:

    I am skeptical of the results. Yes, I hope it is true but it does not mesh with my experience, at least in AZ. The poll should have asked if people are willing to pay more for energy, if necessary, to get off fossil fuels. I expect that the answers would be different.

  6. Joe Romm says:

    The results are incredibly similar no matter how you phrase the question including asking people if they’re willing to pay more. Just go to the links at the end of the post.

  7. Vincent Pawlowski says:

    Most solar installers I know in Arizona are working overtime to satisfy demand, and are still many weeks behind in orders.

    I expect to get my Nissan Leaf next month. Then I will be a little closer to being off fossil fuels.