Two-thirds of Texas registered voters believe climate change is happening, but their urgency about it varies considerably, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Less than a quarter of voters — 23% — say climate change is not happening, and another 12% say they aren’t sure. The partisan splits are big. Among registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats, 88% say climate change is happening, a view shared by 74% of independents and 44% of Republicans. Another 42% of Republican voters don’t think climate change is happening.
Among those who believe climate change is underway, 72% say they are “very worried” (34%) or “somewhat worried” (34%), while 28% say either they are “not very worried” or “not at all worried” about it. Among the Democrats in that group, 89% are very or somewhat worried. Among the Republicans who believe climate change is happening, 48% say they’re worried. And 68% of independents say they’re worried about climate change.
Overall, 47% say the federal government should be doing “a great deal” or “a lot” about climate change, while 31% say government should do “a little” or “nothing.” Another 16% took the middle road, saying government should do “a moderate amount.” The partisan lines are evident here: 79% of Democrats, 41% of independents and 18% of Republicans say the government should be doing a great deal or a lot about climate change. On the other hand, 8% of Democrats, 23% of independents and 55% of Republicans say the federal government should be doing a little or nothing about it.
The numbers point to a wedge issue that has the parties on opposite sides in a way that could separate voters into camps, particularly on the question of government action. “The only thing I see here is a way for Democrats to target Republicans,” said poll co-director Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “And it might be a way for Republicans to target older Democrats.”
Sixty percent of Texas voters under age 29 favor a great deal or a lot of government action, as do 55% of those between 30 and 44 years of age. But among voters 45 and older, only about two in five strongly favor government action.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 18-27 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points, and an overall margin of error of +/- 4.11 percentage points on the question about worry over climate change. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100% because of rounding.
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