According to a newly released Gallup poll, global warming is the second least significant worry for Americans. This report came out as Democratic Senators were pulling an all-nighter to discuss climate change.
Global warming was second to last among American’s concerns in the poll, ranking ahead of “race relations” and just behind “environmental quality” in the list of 15 issues that Gallup asked about in a poll conducted from March 6-9.
According to the poll, twenty-four percent of Americans worry about global warming “a great deal” while 51 percent worried about it “a little/not at all.” Compare this to the figures for the economy, which was the top issue. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed reported worrying about the economy a “great deal” and another 29 percent worried “some” about the economy.
Americans are far more concerned about healthcare, the economy, and federal spending according to a summary by Gallup. “Concerns about the environment,” the report continues, “tend to rank low among Americans, but the current level of worry is even lower than it was last year.”
Gallup has been asking about environmental concerns since 2001, but this is the first time the polling organization has asked about climate change. This year, 31 percent of Americans said they worry “a great deal” about environmental quality, a new low.
The report by Gallup broke down results to compare Republican-leaning respondents to Democrat-leaning respondents on each of the 15 issues. Thirty-six percent of Democrat-leaning respondents reporting that they worry a great deal about climate change. Only 10 percent of Republican-leaning respondents reported the same level of worry.
That only 10 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Republicans worry a great deal about global warming, climate change in the poll’s wording, suggests this is not a real concern for most Americans. Other issues take precedent in people’s minds, though at different frequencies depending on party affiliation.
Other differences between Republicans and Democrats might not be surprising. Republicans more often claimed to worry a great deal about the size and power or the federal government (67 percent, versus 29 percent for Democrats) and race relations, where 23 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans reported worrying a great deal.
Republicans and Democrats were equally worried about two issues. On the issue of access to healthcare, with 57 percent reporting that they worried a great deal. Unemployment caused a great deal of worry for 50 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of democrats in this latest poll.
Those differences tend to reflect a trend Gallup has detected in previous polls on the same issues. Republicans tend to be more concerned about economy and government, while Democrats tend to be more worried about social issues.
The survey was a telephone poll of a random sample of American adults, those aged 18 and older. The poll includes the opinions of 513 people representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speculated that Democrat senators were trying to mollify “the Left Coast billionaire who plans to finance many of their campaigns.” The source of that contention may be the fact that no new legislation was proposed. McConnell added that he did not hear any discussions of upcoming votes either. According to the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe there have only been 35 all-nighters in the Senate in the past 100 years.
The billionaire McConnell referenced is San Francisco entrepreneur Tom Steyer. Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who became an environmental activist who has invested millions in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, contributions to Democrats’ campaigns, and support of other environmental causes.
Republicans say that the marathon climate discussions may have been more an attempt to get some of Steyer’s money than to produce anything meaningful. Democrats realize that climate change legislation isn’t going anywhere in this election year, according to South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune. The long meeting may have been an attempt to show that climate change is still on the Democrats’ radar, in Thune’s opinion.
The Gallup poll results released on Tuesday show Americans do worry about climate change a great deal, but the report notes that the likelihood of public support coming to any climate change legislation seems small. The report’s authors further noted that it is unclear whether the Democrat’s meeting can have any impact on the level of public concern about climate change and environmental quality.
Global warming is not as much a concern to most Americans as are other bread and butter issues like the health of the economy.
By Chester Davis