Republicans doubt climate change and most are unsure of what stance the leading GOP contenders take on climate change
Opinions about climate change have remained consistent in recent years – and they have also remained partisan. Nearly all Democrats believe climate change is occurring and is caused by human activity, while most Republicans disagree. And while majorities of Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll aren’t sure where GOP candidates stand on the issue, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump seem to be more in tune with those Republicans who don’t see a human role in climate change or don’t think the climate is changing.
Americans of all political types see the major Democratic presidential contenders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as climate change believers. But the five leading GOP candidates are thought of as either denying a human cause for climate change or denying it is occurring at all.
But Republicans make distinctions among their current leaders. Nearly as many Republicans call former Florida Governor Jeb Bush a believer in a human role in climate change as believe the opposite. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and especially Cruz and Trump are viewed as closer to the positions of rank and file Republicans. Almost half of Republicans think Cruz and Trump do not see a human impact on climate change or describe them as climate change deniers.
However, for most Republicans a candidate’s position on climate change won’t be important to their vote. Only one in five want a candidate who will take action on climate change. Two-thirds of Democrats do.
Next week, more than 100 world leaders are expected to meet in Paris to work on a new international agreement, as part of the United Nations annual conference on climate change. Many Americans would like the United States to take a leadership role at the conference and set ambitious targets, but there are sizable partisan differences on this. More than twice as many Democrats as Republicans favor this approach. Independents are also supportive of an ambitious agenda on climate change.