While Democrats are united on the importance of top policy areas, Republicans are split on climate

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
November 01, 2020, 3:00 PM UTC

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll reveals that Republicans are divided on the importance of climate change and gun control, whereas Democrats are united across all ten top policy areas we put to them. 

The biggest division inside the GOP is the issue of climate change and the environment: 39% of the party say it’s important to them, while 61% say it’s not. This may be because a portion of Republicans simply either don’t think climate change is taking place, or that mankind is contributing to it. 

Economist / YouGov Data from September 2020 shows about a third (31%) of the party thinks the world is becoming warmer because of human activity, while roughly the same amount (34%) think the world is getting warmer, but not because of humans. The remainder don’t think it’s getting warmer (20%) or are not sure (15%). 

Republicans are similarly split on whether gun control is a principal issue: 63% say it is, while 37% say it is not. Again, this is likely to be because many Republicans see no need for a change in policy. Economist / YouGov data following the El Paso shooting in 2019 showed Republicans are split on whether handgun laws should be stricter or not (45% said they should be stricter, 37% said there should be no change). 

Aside from climate and guns, Republicans remain largely unified around the importance of other issues, such as civil rights, crime, education, health care, immigration, national security, taxes, and the economy (an issue which nearly everyone on both sides agree is important), with 80% or more who say these issues are important. 

On the Democratic side, there appears to be party unity around all these major political issues. Immigration is the biggest topic of dispute among the Dems, however the vast majority (85%) still view it as an important issue, while just 15% do not.  

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between October 25 - 27, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.1% for the overall sample.