Since its peak 3 1/2 years ago, belief that climate change is happening is down sharply among Republicans — 76 to 54 percent — and independents — 86 to 71 percent. It dipped more modestly among Democrats, from 92 to 86 percent.
Renewed global warming skepticism is most pronounced among Republicans and conservatives:
The changes in the two groups in which it’s chiefly occurred are striking ones. Last year leaned Republicans by 72-25 percent believed the Earth was warming; today it’s 55-43 percent. Conservatives last year divided by 69-28 percent on the question; today, by contrast, it’s 56-41 percent. Combining these groups – that is, among conservative Republicans – a bare majority now says global warming is not occurring, the only group in which more than half says so.
The poll also assessed support for pending climate change legislation, but partisanship is increasingly influential in beliefs about climate change. In his analysis of the data, Gary Langer supposed that “a heightened sense that such changes may be coming, particularly since the Obama administration took office, may encourage more people in these groups to express disbelief that global warming is occurring in the first place.”
Climate change recidivism within the GOP has already devolved some of the party’s rising profiles: former McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina, who last year agreed that “there is growing consensus that the issues of climate change and energy independence are inextricably linked,” and that “the cap-and-trade system, if appropriately executed…can create tax incentives for innovation,” is now running for Senate from California with much less enthusiastic acknowledgments of climate change research. At a press conference last Wednesday:
Fiorina faced several questions about climate change, an issue in which [Sen. Barbara] Boxer is deeply involved. The Republican said that global warming demands a serious response, but when asked whether she would back mandatory caps on carbon emissions, Fiorina said she would not comment on a bill she hasn’t read. As for what course of action she believes the government should take, Fiorina suggested engaging in bilateral talks with China to curb greenhouse gases, and easing regulations for alternative energy companies to build manufacturing plants.
When a reporter followed up by asking whether she believes in global warming, Fiorina said, “I think we should have the courage to examine the science on an ongoing basis.”
Michael Crowley at the New Republic eyes the silver lining:
Isn’t it still remarkable that a majority of Republicans still believe warming is occurring? Several years ago that fact alone would have been cause for a headline.
[Cross-posted at Air America]