New Poll: Sandy Fuels Widespread Concern on Climate Change

Post-Election Poll Shows GOP Faces Growing Environmental Divide with Voters

11-14-2012 // Miles Grant
Hurricane Sandy

Superstorm Sandy is fueling concerns about climate change and how it’s inflating the costs and risks of extreme weather, according to a new post-election poll from Zogby Analytics. The poll shows key voting groups in the 2012 election – Hispanics, women, young voters – are among those most concerned with confronting climate change now and protecting America's air, water, wildlife and other natural resources.

"These results show the dramatic impact 2012's extreme weather has had across party lines, with half of Republicans, 73 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats saying they're worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change," said Pollster John Zogby. "It's a major change from our December 2009 poll, which showed two-thirds of Republicans and nearly half of political independents saying they were 'not at all concerned' about global climate change and global warming. The political climate has shifted and members of Congress need to catch up with their constituents."

Among the poll’s findings:

  • Two-thirds of voters (65 percent) say elected officials should take steps now to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations, while just 27 percent say we should wait for more evidence.
  • A strong majority (57 percent) says climate change is adding to the severity of recent extreme weather such as Superstorm Sandy and the summer droughts. Concern is even deeper among key demographics, with 75 percent of Hispanics, 67 percent of African Americans, 65 percent of women, and 65 percent of voters 25-34 agreeing that climate change is fueling America’s extreme weather.
  • Seven in ten voters (69 percent) are greatly or somewhat worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change. Six in ten (58 percent) of Tea Party sympathizers are greatly or somewhat worried, showing a connection between climate action and fiscal responsibility.
  • Three times as many voters say the government is doing too little to protect America's air, water, wildlife and other natural resources (44 percent) as say it’s doing too much (14 percent).
  • Asked to pick the highest priority to help solve America's energy challenges, twice as many voters select renewable energy like wind and solar power (38 percent) than any other choice. Independents favor wind and solar over fossil fuels by a 4-to-1 margin – 48 percent pick renewable energy while just 12 percent select the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and only 11 percent prioritize more oil and gas drilling on America’s public lands.
  • Three in four voters (77 percent) say they’re very or somewhat concerned that political donations by oil, gas and coal industries are influencing politicians in Washington to approve policies that benefit their corporations. The oil and gas industry alone made $59 million in political contributions in the 2012 election cycle and has spent another $104 million on lobbying so far in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
  • When asked which political party they trust more to protect America's air, water, wildlife and other natural resources, twice as many voters choose Democrats (44 percent) than pick Republicans (24 percent). But independents are up for grabs, with 54 percent answering neither/not sure.

“As Americans see the impacts of climate-fueled extreme weather hitting close to home, they’re watching to see if their members of Congress will forge a new path to protect American families or go back to denial and delay on behalf of their polluting donors,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

The Zogby Analytics results are consistent with a poll released Friday by Rasmussen Reports that showed number of U.S. voters who see global warming as a serious problem is at an all-time high, with 68 percent of likely voters calling global warming a very or somewhat serious problem. Two in three sportsmen (66 percent) believe we have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children’s future, according to a national poll of sportsmen released in September that was conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting for the National Wildlife Federation.

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Zogby Analytics conducted an online poll of 1,016 actual voters in the US on November 7 for the National Wildlife Federation. The margin of error for 1,016 is +/- 3.1 percentage points. 

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