While climate change divides Democrats and Republicans, renewable policy unites


The Yale Program on Climate Communication has released an interactive map that shows variations in the climate and clean energy views of Democrats and Republicans. The map shows the results of 15 survey questions, with map layers representing response data at the levels of the U.S. as a whole, each individual state and each of the country’s 435 congressional districts.

The questions pertain to a number of topics ranging from opinions on the reality of global warming, potential risk of climate change and individual policy questions.

The biggest variance in responses came from questions regarding climate change, especially those concerning the role humans play in it.

There are 19 states where at least 50% of Republicans surveyed stated that they don’t believe that climate change is happening. The most skeptical GOP respondents came from Wyoming and West Virginia, where 55% denied the existence of climate change, man-made or otherwise. For Democrats, every single state had an agreement rate of at least 80%, with Alabama Democrats’ 84% agreement rate being the lowest among the party in the nation. The highest rate of GOP agreement came from New York, at 62%.

The biggest disparity when respondents were asked if they were worried about the threat posed by climate change. Nationally, 85% of Democrats shared that they were worried, compared to just 40% of Republicans. The biggest disparity came in Idaho, where 90% of Democrats shared that they’re worried, compared to just 37% of Republicans. There was not a single state where the majority of Republican respondents shared that they were worried.

Policy (mostly) bridges the divide

While common ground on climate change was seldom achieved among the two parties, renewable energy proved to be a better tool to bring the left and right together.

In every single state, at least 50% of Republican and Democrat respondents support:

  • funding research into renewable energy sources
  • regulating CO2 as a pollutant
  • teaching about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming in public schools
  • the idea that corporations should be doing more to address climate change

Among these, the topic with the most universal support was funding research into renewable energy sources, with North Dakota seeing 95% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans in agreement.

Outside of unanimous support, the two parties also generally agreed that environmental protection is more important than economic growth, with only Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan and Ohio Republicans offering dissenting opinions. And while the majority of Republican respondents didn’t agree that utilities should be required to procure 20% of their generation from renewable resources, it was still one of the closer points of agreement.

While policy proved to be a generally effective tool to bring the two parties together, there was still some dissent. This disagreement came only on policy questions regarding climate change. While Democratic respondents in every state agreed that citizens should do more to address global warming, the only states to feature a corresponding GOP agreement majority were New York, New Jersey and Maryland. There wasn’t a single state where the majority of Republicans agreed that Congress should do more to address global warming, yet that opinion was consensus among Democrats across the board.

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