Climate Poll: Three-Quarters Of Young, Independent Voters Describe Deniers As ‘Ignorant, Out Of Touch Or Crazy’


Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak

A new poll has found climate science denialism in Congress is quickly losing favor among young voters, both Republican and Democrat. The poll, conducted by Democratic and Republican firms for the League of Conservation Voters, found 73 percent of respondents associate climate change deniers with words like “ignorant,” “out-of-touch” or “crazy.”

The firms conducted telephone interviews with 600 registered voters, aged 18 to 34, asking a series of questions on climate change and how it’s portrayed in Congress. They found 66 percent of respondents acknowledged climate change as a problem that needed to be addressed, and that a full 80 percent supported President Obama’s recently-announced plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Congressional Republicans, however, take issue with announced regulations of existing coal-fired power plants. But the LCV poll provides more evidence that Americans support taking action on climate change, even if some members of Congress don’t — a recent bipartisan poll from NRDC found 61 percent of Americans backed Obama’s plan, and a survey from April also found the Republican party was “out of touch” with voters in the issue of climate change.

Overall, the poll found broad, bipartisan support for climate change policy and little patience for deniers:

  • Among those unfavorable to the president, 56 percent still supported him taking action on climate change.
  • 79 percent said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported taking action on climate change; similarily, 73 percent they were less likely to vote for someone who opposed climate action plans like the president’s.
  • It wasn’t just Democratic respondents who thought climate change deniers were out of touch: 74 percent of Independents and 53 percent of Republicans used the words “ignorant, out of touch, or crazy” to describe deniers.
  • Only 26 percent bought the argument that action on climate change would kill jobs — 65 percent said they thought taking action on climate change would create jobs.

Unfortunately, climate science deniers in Congress haven’t yet caught on to their constituents’ views.

This week, House Republicans submitted a proposal that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by a third and would deny funding for Obama’s plan to regulate emissions from existing power plants. And last week, Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — all of which are skeptical of climate change — insisted during a hearing that climate change stopped 15 years ago, despite warnings from climate scientists and members of the insurance industry.

But if more young Republicans speak out on climate change, the party has the potential to undergo a shift, much like it’s (arguably) begun to do with gay marriage. Earlier this month, a Republican aide, who chose to remain anonymous for job security reasons, wrote an award-winning essay urging Republicans to take a “small government, pro-growth conservative stand on climate change.” In a National Journal article from May, Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold said he thinks many Republicans’ anti-science rhetoric is spread simply to win favor with their base.

“Most Republicans say the same thing behind closed doors: ‘Of course, I get that the climate is changing, of course I get that we need to do something—but I need to get reelected.’ Somehow they’re going to have to find a safe place on this,” he said.

If Republicans find that they can accept climate science without hurting — and even, if the LCV polling data stands, potentially helping — their chances of reelection, they may be able to evolve on the issue.

16 Responses to Climate Poll: Three-Quarters Of Young, Independent Voters Describe Deniers As ‘Ignorant, Out Of Touch Or Crazy’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Republican denier Congressmen (and some Democrats, too) don’t care if their Party is in touch with the voters here. It’s only one issue among many, and they’ll rope them in with the big flag backgrounds, talk about lowering taxes and helping “working American families”, and whatever other BS their handlers and image makers feed to them.

    They don’t even care much if their party controls the Senate, or is in the White House. The main thing is to keep the Koch and Chevron campaign cash flowing, and to move into a fat lobbying job if they ever get defeated- tough to do, with gerrymandering and multimillion dollar campaigns.

    Democrats would win a lot more seats if they called them out for being the shameless sluts that they are. They won’t do it, because too many in their own Party are also in the trough.

    No easy solution here… It would take a spiritual awakening, and I’m not talking about religion, either.

  2. BillD says:

    Good news, although we cant’ wait for those young people to increase in numbers and clout. When I teach college students about climate change, I show them why this is the issue of the year, decade and century

  3. fj says:

    This not just an opinion poll but the reality and our leaders must act immediately.

  4. kermit says:

    The only thing they have to do is die, ff. Oh, they have to act if we are to live, yes, but I do not expect it. What to do is fairly simple. Although it is too late, we know what steps we must take to minimize future damage. But getting people – especially our leaders – to do anything seems impossible.

  5. rjs says:

    yeah, but anthony weiner has a 75% approval rating among young voters, too…

  6. fj says:

    The President has to say we are in an extreme emergency situation and that he has to act on it with the extreme urgency and on the huge scale that is required to save the United States and rest of the people on this planet from dangerous and rapidly accelerating climate change.

    He must proceed to do this and let the deniers and laggards try to stop him.

  7. John McCormick says:

    About as good a description of today’s American politics as one could write.

  8. robert evinger says:

    young people are not getting their news from fox, obviously.

  9. NoNewts says:

    Only term limits can save this country. So many congressional members are re-elected without opposition or without spending a nickle. Term limits will send them back home without the cushy lobbying job. They might actually have to get jobs, pay social security, pay for their health insurance, save money for retirement.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    I’ve heard that “sexting” is fairly common among those young whippersnappers.

    I’m not condoning what Weiner did, but he’s been open about it and (barring further revelations) it is in the past. I’d vote for him if I lived in New York City.

    Consider another congressman, who happens to be a Republican: David Vitter. He was involved in a scandal comparable to Weiner’s and is still in Congress. It also appears he is in the pocket of fossil fuel interests.

    The Louisiana Republican threatened to block a pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unless the secretary agreed to issue more deepwater drilling permits.

    Although the Senate Ethics Committee rebuked Sen. Vitter and warned him not to engage in similar conduct in the future, Sen. Vitter boasted that he would continue to block pending pay increases for Secretary Salazar.

  11. Will says:

    Climate change isn’t going to become a bipartisan issue because politicians read a poll. It will become bipartisan only after Republicans realize they’re losing elections over it.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Says who?

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Heavens to Murgatroyde! If Weiner is the best US politics can offer, or is even considered acceptable, then it must be in even more parlous condition than I imagined.

  14. Chris Winter says:

    Yes, that was not the deepest of thinking on my part. It was based mostly on that moment when Weiner stood up to the Republicans in the House: “The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct to sit!” It was good to see someone confront them.

    But, as far as possible, a mayor has to be collaborative rather than confrontational.

  15. Keith Oliver says:

    It is unfortunate that today’s politicians who have been in office all these years just cannot accept the fact that the human race is the main contributor to global warming. Back in my day (the 1980’s) there was a mention of global warming but it gained very little news but its only after years later that this issue has gained national if not global attention. I just hope things can change for the better before its actually too late