Majority of Trump Voters Believe in Climate Change

Despite the presidential candidate’s history of climate change denial, a majority of Donald Trump voters actually believe global warming is real and man-made.

The survey, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found that 56 percent of people supporting Trump in the 2016 race think global warming is real. On the Democrat side, more than 90 percent of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters believe in climate change.

Key Findings

  • With the exception of Ted Cruz voters, most supporters of the Democratic and Republican candidates think global warming is happening (Sanders: 93 percent, Clinton: 92 percent, Kasich: 71 percent, Trump: 56 percent). By contrast, fewer than half of Ted Cruz supporters—38 percent—think global warming is happening.

  • Supporters of the Democratic candidates are much more likely to think global warming is caused mostly by human activities (79 percent of Sanders supporters and 76 percent of Clinton supporters). Supporters of the Republican candidates are more likely to think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment (60 percent of Cruz supporters and 55 percent of Trump supporters) or are divided on the issue—49 percent of Kasich supporters think global warming is mostly caused by humans, 46 percent think it is mostly caused by natural changes.

  • Fewer than half of any candidate’s supporters are aware that virtually all climate scientists have concluded human-caused global warming is happening. However, supporters of the Democratic candidates are the most likely to think at least 90 percent of climate scientists are convinced (Sanders: 38 percent, Clinton: 27 percent). Far fewer supporters of the Republican candidates understand the scientific consensus (Kasich: 11 percent, Trump: 3 percent, Cruz: 2 percent).

  • When asked how worried they are about global warming, a majority of Clinton (83 percent) and Sanders supporters (80 percent) say they are very or somewhat worried about it. Fewer than half of the Republican candidates’ supporters are very or somewhat worried about global warming. Kasich supporters are the most likely to say they are worried (nearly half—44 percent), followed by about one in three Trump supporters (35 percent) and about one in six Cruz supporters (17 percent).

  • Supporters of all Democratic and Republican candidates—except Cruz—are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming.

  • Conversely, supporters of all Democratic and Republican candidates—except Cruz—are less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes taking action to reduce global warming.

  • While very few voters say global warming will be the most important issue to them when picking a candidate to vote for this year (2 percent), about half (49 percent) say it will be among several important issues. Supporters of the Democratic candidates are most likely to say it will be among several important issues (Sanders: 74 percent, Clinton: 70 percent). By contrast, fewer than half of the Republican candidate supporters say the same (Kasich: 42 percent, Cruz: 33 percent, Trump: 30 percent).

  • Among the issues voters say will influence their vote for President in 2016, global warming ranked 5th in importance of the 23 issues asked about among Sanders voters (59 percent say it is “very important”) and 11th highest for Clinton supporters (51 percent say it is “very important”).

  • By contrast, supporters of the Republican candidates are least likely to say global warming is very important to them among the 23 issues (Trump: 18 percent, Kasich: 13 percent, Cruz: 13 percent).

  • About half of Sanders and Clinton supporters would be willing to join—or are currently participating in—a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming (51 percent and 47 percent, respectively). By contrast, fewer than one in five supporters of the Republican candidates would be willing to do so (Kasich: 17 percent, Trump: 16 percent, Cruz: 11 percent).

  • Registered voters support a broad array of energy policies, including many designed to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels and to promote clean energy. The Democratic candidates’ supporters are the most likely to strongly or somewhat support such policies, but supporters of the Republican candidates do as well, including: Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power (Sanders: 93 percent, Clinton: 91 percent, Kasich: 86 percent, Trump: 76 percent, Cruz: 64 percent); providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (Sanders: 94 percent, Clinton: 92 percent, Kasich: 80 percent, Trump: 70 percent, Cruz: 59 percent).

  • At least half of supporters of all candidates except Cruz also would support: Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (Clinton: 91 percent, Sanders: 87 percent, Kasich: 74 percent, Trump: 62 percent, Cruz: 47 percent); requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes such as income taxes by an equal amount (Sanders: 88 percent, Clinton: 85 percent, Kasich: 53 percent, Trump: 51 percent, Cruz: 27 percent).

  • Most Sanders and Clinton supporters (90 percent and 87 percent, respectively) and over half of Kasich voters (61 percent) support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase. Half of Trump supporters do as well (50 percent). By contrast, only 36 percent of Cruz supporters agree.

  • Most Sanders and Clinton supporters (90 percent and 76 percent, respectively) and over half of Kasich voters (61 percent) think the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do. About half of Trump supporters agree (49 percent), but only four in 10 Cruz supporters (40 percent) do.

For a deeper dive: Huffington Post, Grist

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.


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