Politics & Global Warming, April 2022
1.1. Most Democrats, but few Republicans, say global warming will be a very important issue when deciding who they will vote for in the 2022 congressional elections.
Global warming is the 24th most highly ranked issue registered voters say will be “very important” to their vote in the 2022 congressional elections1, with 39% saying it will be very important (see data tables in the PDF version of the report, pp. 34–43). This is similar to the percentage who said global warming would be very important to their vote in the 2020 presidential election (43%)2 and the 2018 congressional election (38%).3
Among Democrats, about six in ten (63%) say global warming will be a very important issue in determining their vote for Congress. This includes 74% of liberal Democrats and 50% of moderate/conservative Democrats. Global warming is the 3rd most important voting issue among liberal Democrats and environmental protection is 1st. Among moderate/conservative Democrats, global warming ranks 16th, with environmental protection 7th. By contrast, global warming is near or at the bottom of congressional voting priorities among Republicans.
After each respondent rated how important each of the 30 issues would be to their vote in the 2022 congressional elections, they were shown the list of issues they had rated highest and then asked, “Which one of these issues is the most important issue to you when voting for a candidate?”
Using this method, global warming is the #10 ranked voting issue among all registered voters, with 4% of registered voters saying it is their most important issue (see data tables in the PDF version of this report, p. 44). For context, “the economy” is the #1 most important issue for registered voters, with 14% saying it is the most important issue.
Among Democrats, global warming is the #7 most important voting issue (6% of Democrats; see data tables in the PDF version of the report, p. 44), with maintaining free and fair elections as the #1 most important (11% of Democrats). Global warming is the #4 most important issue among liberal Democrats (8% of liberal Democrats) and #12 among moderate/conservative Democrats (3% of moderate/conservative Democrats). Global warming was near the bottom of the most important issue list for Republicans.
1.2. Most registered voters would prefer to vote for a candidate who supports action on global warming.
If given a choice, a majority of registered voters (58%) would prefer to vote for a candidate for public office who supports action on global warming, while only 17% would prefer to vote for a candidate who opposes action, and 25% say it doesn’t matter either way.
Nearly all liberal Democrats (95%), a large majority of moderate/conservative Democrats (76%), and about half of Independents (55%; see data tables in the PDF version of the report, p. 45) would prefer to vote for a candidate who supports action on global warming, as would 44% of liberal/moderate Republicans. In contrast, only 23% of conservative Republicans would prefer to vote for a candidate who supports action on global warming, while 46% of conservative Republicans would prefer to vote for a candidate who opposes action.
1 It is important to note that this survey was conducted before recent precedent-changing Supreme Court rulings (including those limiting the EPA’s authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards for existing power plants, overturning the right to abortion, and overturning a New York state law that regulated concealed carry of firearms), before multiple deadly mass shootings around the U.S., before the nationally televised Congressional hearings on the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and during a period of high inflation. Americans’ voting issue priorities may have changed in response to these events.
2 Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Ballew, M., Bergquist, P., Gustafson, A., Goldberg, M., & Wang, X. (2020). Politics & Global Warming, April 2020. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
3Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., Rosenthal, S., Cutler, M., & Kotcher, J. (2018). Politics & Global Warming, March, 2018. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Table of Contents
1. Global Warming as a Voting Issue
2. Global Warming and Clean Energy as Government Priorities
3. Support for Policies to Reduce the Pollution that Causes Global Warming
4. Energy Production as an Economic Issue
5. Who is Responsible for Action on Global Warming?
6. State and Local Government Action on Global Warming
7. Political Actions to Limit Global Warming
8. Trust, Blame, and Grievance
Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Neyens, L., Myers, T., Goldberg, M., Campbell, E., Lacroix, K., & Marlon, J. (2022). Politics & Global Warming, April 2022. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.