A new study which surveyed adult Americans found that by taking a ‘green’ position on climate change, political candidates could take more votes than if they took a ‘not-green’ position.
The study, which surveyed a representative sample of adult Americans between November 1 and November 14 of 2010, around the time of the most recent national election, and state-wide telephone surveys conducted in Florida, Maine and Massachusetts in July of the same year, found that Democratic and Independent voters would favour a political candidate who took a green view, but would penalise one who took an opposing view.
The results suggest that candidates of either Democrat or Republican can gain votes simply by taking a green position on climate change – that being, acknowledging that global warming is actually happening, that humans are at least partly responsible, and advocating a need to act – rather than taking the opposing view – that being, expressing scepticism about global warming and road-blocking action.
“These results are powerful because they suggest what might be clear winning strategies for candidates running for office,” said lead author Jon Krosnick, professor of communication and of political science at Stanford University, who has been conducting national surveys of public opinion on climate change for more than a decade.
Survey interviewers read different quotes about global warming from a hypothetical Senate candidate to survey respondents. “Some respondents heard the candidate say nothing about climate,” said Krosnick. “Other respondents heard the candidate take a green position on climate. And, in the national survey, some respondents heard the candidate take a not-green position on climate.”
All respondents also heard the candidate take positions on a series of issues other than climate change, he added.
The results were fairly conclusive in the end: 77% of all respondents said that they would vote for the hypothetical candidate who took the green position on climate change, while 65% supported the candidate who remained utterly silent on the topic. Unsurprisingly, only 48% of all respondents said they would vote for the candidate who took a not-green position.
More specifically, the majority of Democrats and Independents said that they would vote for the hypothetical candidate with the green stance on climate, with 74% of Democrats and 79% of Independents. This figure drops for both groups if the candidate says nothing on the topic, down to 53% and 63% respectively, in line with the belief that those who are interested in the climate change issue will seek out candidates who have similar beliefs. When faced with the candidate who opposed the green stance, the figures dropped again to 37% of Democrats and 44% of Independents saying they would vote for him or her.
Keep reading on the next page for how the Republicans lined up in the surveys.