38% of Californians, Mostly Republicans, Deny Climate Change Affects the State

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fours years of drought and incessant wailing about climate change, has failed to convince a sizeable portion of California’s population that global warming is taking a toll on the state. They are mostly Republicans.

A new survey (pdf) on the environment from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 62% of Californians say that the effects of global warming have started. But only 37% of Republicans in the state believe the effects of global warming are being felt, compared to 73% of Democrats and 65% of independents. Thirty-one percent of Republicans said the effects will never be felt.


Only 26% of Republicans think the threat is very serious.

Not surprisingly, 62% of Republicans say climate change has not contributed to the drought, in sharp contrast to the 78% of Democrats who do.

The skepticism mirrors national ideological and political splits over perceptions of climate change. That is worth keeping in mind when assessing the probability that Congress will pass the 10-year, $1.3-billion California Emergency Drought Relief Act co-sponsored by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer Wednesday.

Republicans didn’t always think this way in California. In 2006, PPIC found support across the partisan divide for AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act that regulated greenhouse gases—68% independents, 67% Democrats, 65% Republicans. Today the split is 79% Democrats, 74% independents, 46 percent Republicans.

Democrats are in favor of all sorts of policy changes driven by a fear of climate change that Republicans are at best luke warm about. Seventy-one percent of Democrats 71% favor tax credits and incentives for electric vehicle purchases described in Senate Bill 350, compared to 51% of Republicans.

Eighty-two percent of Dems want to increase energy efficiency in buildings; only 52% of GOPers on board. Eighty-three percent of Democrats want to reduce the amount of petroleum used in vehicles, an idea opposed by 53% of Republicans.

Seventy-seven percent of Democrats said the state should prepare now for future effects of global warming, compared to 40% of Republicans.  

The report does not break out partisan response to the open-ended question asking about the most important environmental issue facing California. But Democrats may have had something to do with the drought and or water supply capturing the top spot for the first time.

The 58% response was 50 points higher than 2011 and dwarfed yesteryear’s perennial winner, air pollution, which garnered 9% support, down 18 points from four years ago. Last year was the first year air pollution was not rated Number One.

It is naysaying like this that has prodded the Democrats to portray Republicans as the “Party of No.” Part of that perception comes from Republicans not getting full recognition for the things they support.

Seventy-four percent of California Republicans favor the Keystone XL pipeline vetoed in February by President Obama, compared to 38% of Democrats. Sixty-two percent favor more offshore oil drilling, compared to 27% of Democrats. And 53% favor increased hydraulic fracturing (fracking), compared to just 22% of Dems.

The true Party of Yes is ready to re-embrace fossil fuels and put aside costly and ill-conceived responses to a little hot weather if Californians will just give them a chance.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Climate Change: California Poll Finds Republicans Don't See Global Warming as Serious Threat (by Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News)

Drought Now Californians' Top Concern, Poll Finds (by Monte Morin, Los Angeles Times)

California Senators Introduce Emergency Drought Relief Legislation (by Lydia O'Connor, Huffington Post)

Californians & the Environment (by Mark  Baldassare, Dean Bonner, David Kordus and Lunna Lopes, Public Policy Institute of California) (pdf)

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