Poll: Public Concern on Warming Gains Intensity

The partisan gap on global warming has shifted: In 1998, 31 percent of Republicans and independents alike were sure that global warming was happening; it was a not-distant 39 percent among Democrats. Today, 46 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents are certain -- but just 26 percent of Republicans feel that way. A difference from 1998 to now is the presence of the Bush administration's voice on this issue.

Partisan differences extend to some proposed policies. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike all broadly oppose increasing electricity and gasoline taxes, and favor giving companies tax breaks to produce more water, wind and solar power. In general, though, Republicans are the most apt to favor tax breaks to encourage changes, as opposed to government mandates.

There's been interest in the views of evangelical white Protestants -- a core Republican group -- since 86 evangelical leaders last month signed a statement citing "general agreement" among scientists working on the issue that climate change is happening, and urging federal legislation to deal with it.

This survey, however, finds little resonance for that statement among evangelical white Protestants. They're less likely than others to think about their personal impact on the environment, to see global warming as a threat to the global environment, or to say the government should address it. Evangelicals also are no more likely than others to think scientists agree on the issue -- and they're 12 points less likely than other Americans to trust environmental scientists in the first place.

Seniors and Kids

There are differences among other groups as well. Seniors are less likely than younger adults to be sure that global warming is happening (25 percent are, compared with 41 percent of those under 65). They're also 11 points less likely to say global warming is highly important to them and 17 points less likely to call it a very serious problem.

Just one in four senior citizens thinks global warming threatens the world's environment a great deal; more than half of others think so. It follows, then, that seniors are the least apt to say the government should be doing more to deal with the issue.

Parents with children under 18 have some different views on global warming, perhaps given their stake in future generations. They're eight to 10 points more likely than others to say global warming will be a very serious problem if nothing is done to reduce it, to think it threatens the world's environment a great deal and to want the government to do much more to try to deal with it.

SUVs

Finally, there are SUVs. One in six adult Americans drives a sports utility vehicle, which have been criticized in some quarters for their low fuel efficiency. Being an SUV driver doesn't affect most views on environmental or global warming issues. But there is one significant difference: SUV drivers are 14 points less likely than people who drive sedans to support a government mandate that cars be made more fuel-efficient.

Methodology

This ABC News/Time/Stanford University poll was conducted by telephone March 9-14, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

For other ABC News polls, click here

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