CREDIT: (AP Photo/Patrick T. Fallon)
Tea Party Republicans succeeded in grinding the federal government to a halt, and they are the biggest holdouts in the face of overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening. Mainstream Republicans, however, are much less likely to reject the fact that the planet is getting hotter.
67 percent of Americans told the pollsters at the Pew Research Center that there is solid evidence the planet has been getting warmer, and in polls like these it’s common to see a stark partisan breakdown. Republicans reject mainstream climate science, Democrats are much more likely to accept it. But this survey found that there is a serious disconnect between mainstream Republicans and those who identify with the Tea Party.
Which groups think that global warming is not happening? 13 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. 41 percent of Tea Party Republicans. And just 4 percent of Democrats and people who lean Democratic. 97 percent of climate scientists not only believe the planet is getting warmer, but that humans are causing it.
While last year Americans were evenly split, this year most people think that scientists say that humans cause climate change, 54 percent to 37 percent.
The survey, which sampled 1,504 people earlier in October, found that a quarter of the total population — 26 percent — says the planet is not warming. About half of that group think there is not enough evidence and half say “it’s just not happening.”
Looking at the population in another way, that group is mainly composed of Tea Party Republicans. 61 percent of mainstream, non-Tea Party Republicans think there is solid evidence for global warming, while just 25 percent of Tea Party Republicans think there is.
Looking at all Republicans, and people who lean Republican: 23 percent thinks humans help cause global warming, 19 percent believe the globe is warming but humans have nothing to do with it, and 45 percent see no solid evidence that it’s getting warmer. 75 percent of liberal Democrats say that humans are causing climate change, and 58 percent of moderate ones do the same. There is an educational component as well: 86 percent of college-educated Democrats think so compared to 57 percent of those with less education. There is no similar educational difference among Republicans.
A study earlier this year found that people who expressed faith in free-market ideology were also likely to reject scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels helps to cause it. Moreover, it found that free market adherents tend to believe conspiracy theories about: a “world government,” the attacks of September 11 being an “inside job,” SARS being a government plot, the U.S. knowing about Japanese plans to attack Pearl Harbor, the Apollo moon landings taking place on a soundstage, Area 51 being home to alien bodies, and Lee Harvey Oswald not being a lone gunman, among other things.
The Tea Party has hobbled the national GOP’s legislative and electoral strategy, and it appears to be one of the driving forces behind the legislative inaction on climate change.
In Virginia, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has led Ken Cuccinelli in the polls in the months before the election while talking about the need to do something about climate change — even as Cuccinelli defends his record as a vigorous climate denier.