On Climate, Democrats and Republicans Don’t Live in the Same Reality

in great shape , If you live in the West, it’s hard to deny fires and droughts.

There are many dramatic contrasts between the Biden administration and its immediate predecessor, and climate policy is high on the list. Four years after promises to restore coal use and claims that windmills caused cancer, we have an administration that promises to cut emissions in half by the end of the decade.

What does the American public think of this change? The Pew Research Center has been tracking attitudes on climate issues for the past several years, and it has new polling data from early May. The poll shows a general weakening of support for climate policies, with most of the changes coming from Republicans. But it also suggests that the two sides may not be in the same reality, as they largely disagree about whether the weather has changed.

mind the Gap

Pew’s data is based on a survey of more than 10,000 US residents, and it was done in early May (this is before the most recent surge in gasoline prices, which may be relevant to some of the questions). In many respects, the same questions have been asked for many years, so we have some data on how attitudes have changed on the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

Overall, a slim majority of countries (49 percent to 47 percent) think Biden’s policies on climate are heading the country in the right direction. But the partisan divide is huge, with 79 percent of Democrats agreeing and 82 percent of Republicans feeling the policies are headed in the wrong direction.

That said, there is solid support for most real policies: 90 percent support tree planting efforts, 79 percent support tax credits for carbon capture, 72 percent want to see requirements for more renewable power, 68 percent want to see emissions-based taxes on companies. support, and 67 percent approved incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles. Even among Republicans, support for all of these items is more than 45 percent.

One policy that had little support across the board was the phasing out of internal combustion vehicles. Only 43 percent of the public supported the action, while 55 percent opposed it. Sixty-five percent of Democrats supported the measure, while 82 percent of Republicans opposed it.

Support for the policies is waning primarily among Republicans.

Support for the policies is waning primarily among Republicans.

pew research

Support for these policies has dropped gradually over the years, largely driven by declining support for Republicans. It is possible that when his party ran the government he was more accepting of government action. A similar thing was evident when Democrats were asked whether the government was not doing enough about various environmental issues. Those numbers began to dwindle after Biden took office.

different realities

Now a large number of people think that they have experienced the reality of climate change. More than 40 percent say they’ve experienced extreme weather and/or extended heat waves, while 30 percent say their region has gone through drought and another 20 percent cite major wildfires. In all of these cases, 80 percent of those who said they experienced these problems suspected that climate change contributed to them (as, in many cases, it did).

As you’d expect, these results show regional differences, with people in the western United States more likely to notice heat waves, droughts, and wildfires; There is a possibility of severe thunderstorms in other areas of the country.

What is disturbing here is that partisanship is clearly skewing basic notions of reality. With one exception, Democrats were more likely to say they experienced these events than Republicans—the only exception being droughts in the West. The gaps in these perceptions can be very large, such as the 24-point difference between parties in the Northeast when looking at severe storms and heat waves. Most of the intervals were short, but their consistency across regions and weather events was striking.

There is a growing, bipartisan feeling that environmental laws may not be worth it.

There is a growing, bipartisan feeling that environmental laws may not be worth it.

pew research

Given the seriousness of meteorological disasters, you can expect increased support for environmental measures. But the opposite seems to be true. The belief that environmental regulations provide more benefits to the economy than they cost has fallen from 65 percent in 2019 to 53 percent today. Again, this is largely driven by the large reduction in Republican support after Trump left office – a drop that leaves 75 percent of Republicans saying environmental regulations are too expensive. But even among Democrats, support fell from 85 percent to 78 percent over the same period.

Obviously, there were many other events that influenced public attitudes over the years, including the one million deaths from the pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce that figure. So we may have to wait until next year to know whether this drop in support represents an ongoing trend.

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