Sen. Rand Paul has called the science behind it “not conclusive.” Sen. Ted Cruz has denied its existence. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has previously presented himself as a skeptic. And both Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have spoken out against any kind of federal regulation or taxes aimed at stopping it.
The “it” is climate change.
All these members of the Grand Old Party have expressed interest in throwing their hats in the 2016 presidential race. And while their takes on global warming are in line with the majority of their party’s last batch of presidential contenders, a new poll suggests any Republican who’s serious about getting elected might want to start whistling a different tune.
The New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan environmental research group, conducted a nationwide telephone poll of 1,006 adults and discovered that while global warming is not a top voting issue for most people, a politician’s stance on the issue does impact how they will vote.
Most surprisingly, given the public statements of their party’s figureheads, 48 percent of Republicans surveyed said they would likely back a candidate interested in fighting global warming. The same percentage of Republicans also said they were less likely to vote for someone who dismissed manmade climate change as “a hoax,” even though 47 percent said they think climate-change-fighting policies will negatively impact the economy.
While only 18 percent of Republicans said climate change was a very important issue to them — compared to 63 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents — 77 percent of respondents overall said the federal government should be taking action to combat global warming.
In its report on the study, The New York Times noted that the percentage of Americans who agreed that global warming is caused, even partially, by humans increased significantly — to 81 percent, up from the 72 percent found in a 2011 Stanford University poll.
While some respondents said their views on global warming were influenced by their own personal experiences — like one New Jersey woman whose house was damaged in Superstorm Sandy — others said they thought climate-change denial makes politicians look ignorant or out of touch.
“I don’t think it’s the number one hot issue in the world,” said Jason Becker, a stay-at-home father from Florida who identified himself as an independent. “If someone feels it’s a hoax, they are denying the evidence out there. Many arguments can be made on both sides of the fence. But to ignore it completely indicates a closed-minded individual, and I don’t want a closed-minded individual in a seat of political power.”
Aspiring 2016 candidates, take note.