Poll: Voters Seek Climate Change-Savvy Candidate

A new poll shows that two-thirds of all U.S. adults (66 percent) believe it is important that the next U.S. president has a policy that addresses climate change. Forty-four percent believe it is extremely or very important, and only 14 percent believe it is not at all important.

Sixty-three percent say it is important that the new president, soon after taking office, initiates strong action to address global warming/climate change.

The findings of the poll, commissioned by the non-partisan Presidential Climate Action Project and conducted by Harris Interactive, may surprise experts. "As some polls show, when asked broadly about what issues are important, the environment or climate change do not rank near the top of those lists," said Bill Becker, the group's executive director. "But when asked about the overall importance of climate change, it is clear from these numbers that strong majorities of American voters want action on the issue."

The poll found that more women than men want a president with such a policy (69 percent versus 63 percent). The poll also found that the importance of the next president having a climate change policy is significantly stronger in the Northeast (74 percent) followed by the West (68 percent). Both Hispanic Americans (75 percent) and African-Americans (72 percent) say it is important that the new president have a  policy on climate change.

The poll found that people who are more certain to vote are more likely to believe it is important for the next president to have a policy for climate change; and that he or she initiate action in this area soon after taking office.

Asked about voter preference for the three major-party candidates among people who are absolutely certain to vote, 22 percent believe that Obama is the candidate who offers the strongest policy on climate change; 21 percent believe it is Clinton, and 8 percent believe it is McCain. Importantly, almost half of those absolutely certain to vote – 49 percent -- do not yet know.

"Here the poll identifies a clear disparity," Becker said. "The overwhelming majority of Americans want a strong, urgent climate change policy, but in the voters' minds, none of the presidential candidates has yet emerged as the leader on climate change issues. A clear need exists for candidates to make the issue of climate change and their policies more prominent in the current race."

The Presidential Climate Action Project is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative of the Wirth Chair at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between April 9 – 11 among 2,092 U.S. adults (aged 18+). No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available. 

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