President’s handling of wildfires gets negative marks

November 21, 2018, 4:30 PM GMT+0

Most Americans believe that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity

Americans – especially Westerners – aren’t especially happy with the President Donald Trump’s response to the California wildfires. A third in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted in the days after the President’s Saturday visit to see the devastation in California, approve of how he is handling the situation, but more disapprove.

Those living in the Western United States are even more negative. On the other hand, Republicans express approval by a seven to one margin.

Americans disagree with the President on the role climate change may have played in the severity of the California fires. Nearly half the public believes climate change played a role affecting the severity of recent weather events. [The President has attributed the severity of these fires to poor forest management, both in tweets and other statements.] But perception is politically based, as Republicans and Trump voters overwhelmingly view recent severe weather as something that happens from time to time.

The President’s 2016 supporters are especially likely to see no role for climate change in the California wildfires.

There is a sizable difference between national public opinion and the nation’s perception of the President’s opinion on climate change. 54% overall believe climate change is real, and caused in part by human activity (Republicans say climate change is happening, but are much less likely to think that humans have a role in it). But far fewer see the President thinking as they do.

Majorities of both those who believe climate change has a human component and those who doubt there is climate change at all say the President doesn’t believe climate change exists. Three quarters of those who see the climate changing, but don’t think there is a human role in it (many in this group are Republicans) believe the President takes their position. This middle group is also the least likely to say they are “absolutely sure” of their belief.

59% of all adults (and 57% of those in the West) think the country has already been harmed by climate change. A third of Republicans agree. Westerners are especially worried about long-term effects: 44% are “very worried” the country will be harmed by climate change in the next 50 years, and one in three are “very worried” about the effect on their own families. In both questions, that is more than in any other region.

Majorities of Republicans are not very worried – or not worried at all – about either.

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Image: Getty

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