POLL: Fewer Republicans and Conservatives Believe Global Warming Is Happening

Politically, Democrats and Republicans are at odds on both of these, with independents closer to Republicans, particularly on cap and trade.

In terms of change the past year-and-a-half, support for cap and trade has declined by 12 points among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, vs. 4 points among leaned Democrats; it's also declined more among conservatives than among liberals and moderates. Support for unilateral action, though, has fallen more generally across these groups; it's down by 15 points among leaned Democrats as well as by 13 points among leaned Republicans.

There are other factors in views on policy. People who think the economy is recovering are 20 points more apt to support cap and trade, a significantly predictive factor even when controlled for other variables, including partisanship and ideology. (Economic views don't significantly predict opinions on unilateral U.S. action in general.) Additionally, younger adults are 16 points more apt than their elders (and 25 points more likely than seniors) to support unilateral U.S. action. This holds as an independent predictor when controlled for other factors.

OTHER DATA – Other recent polls have shown similar declines in belief that global warming is occurring, with results differing in degree given the different questions posed. They also show less credence among conservatives and Republicans, but with changes involving other groups as well as these, unlike the ABC/Post results.

Gallup, Fox and Pew Polls on Global Warming

A Gallup poll in March found an 8-point decline from 2008, to 53 percent, in belief that the effects of global warming "have already begun" to happen; a 6-point decline, to 60 percent, in personal worry about it; and a 6-point rise, to 41 percent, in the belief its seriousness is "generally exaggerated," a view Gallup called "somewhat volatile" in polls since 2001. (Views that the effects have begun fell by 16 points among conservatives from March 2008 to March 2009, compared with 6 points among moderates and an insignificant 1-point gain among liberals in Gallup's data.)

In a Fox News poll last May, 69 percent (of registered voters) said they "believe global warming exists," down from 82 percent in January 2007. And a Pew Research poll last month found a 14-point drop, from 71 percent in spring 2008 to 57 percent, in people saying there's "solid evidence" temperatures have been rising the past few decades. The ABC/Post question asks if people think temperatures probably have or probably have not been rising, a lower bar than "solid evidence."

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 12-15, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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