Where does climate change rank among voter issues in your political candidate’s district? It can affect elections even at the semi-local and regional levels. Campaign strategists must navigate and moderate the debate in the near-term and long-term future. Demographic research and data will be key in developing the tone and tenor of your candidate’s message.
As President Donald Trump for the first time addressed the U.N. General Assembly, Hurricane Maria was hard at work as the third major hurricane in a month to tear up the Caribbean. He made no mention of climate change. (He did, however, condemn rogue nations and bureaucracy in an America-first iteration met with little applause from fellow world leaders.)
The stances that folks take on climate change, its causes, and its effects vary by location and political ideology. To conservatives it’s generally an apocalyptic liberal conspiracy theory; to liberals it’s generally a verified scientific fact conservatives willfully ignore for self interest.
Let’s see the contemporary stats on how people believe from our friends at Pew Research.
Where Does Climate Change Rank Among Voter Issues?
A Matter of Perspective
Who believes climate change to be a significant threat, churning extreme weather events in greater numbers as the world grows hotter? Well, nearly everyone.
But here’s a more accurate picture, based on Pew’s recent 38-country survey of perceived geopolitical threats. In total, participants, expressed as median scores across the nations, cited the following as major threats:
- 62% - ISIS
- 61% - climate change
- 51% - cyberattacks from other countries
- 51% - condition of the global economy
- 39% - large number of refugees leaving countries like Iraq and Syria
- 35% - U.S. power and influence
- 31% - Russia’s power and influence
- 31% - China’s power and influence
A National Glance
Respondents tended to stick to threats as they’re viewed in their respective parts of the world. For example, those in European countries affected by recent terrorist attacks (88% in Spain, 88% in France, and 70% in the United Kingdom) most commonly raised that concern. Respondents in African nations plagued by drought and nutrition crises raised the climate flag, as did some Latin American nations contending with stronger tropical storms and hurricanes.
In America? 56% listed climate change as a major threat. That total lagged behind the following nations:
- Spain - 89%
- Chile - 86%
- Peru - 79%
- South Korea - 79%
- Greece - 79%
- Kenya - 76%
- Colombia - 74%
- Mexico - 72%
- France - 72%
- Brazil - 67%
- Japan - 67%
- Italy - 65%
- Philippines - 65%
- Netherlands - 64%
- Sweden - 64%
- Tanzania - 64%
- Germany - 63%
- Vietnam - 61%
- Canada - 60%
- United Kingdom - 59%
- South Africa - 59%
- Hungary - 59%
- Australia - 58%
Meanwhile, just 35% of those surveyed in Russia, 38% in Israel, 40% in Jordan, 42% in Poland, 44% in Tunisia, and 47% in India identified climate change as a major threat. Those low figures accompanied just several other countries surveyed.
By Education and Ideology
Perceptions of climate change differ among varying scientific knowledge levels and political leanings. Here’s how they rank by political party and reported levels of scientific knowledge:
Likelihood of Rising Sea Levels Eroding Beaches and Shorelines
- Low scientific knowledge: 26%
- Medium: 25%
- High: 27%
- Low: 33%
- Medium: 62%
- High: 75%
Likelihood of Storms Becoming More Severe
- Low scientific knowledge: 33%
- Medium: 27%
- High: 19%
- Low: 37%
- Medium: 57%
- High: 74%
Likelihood of More Droughts or Water Shortages
- Low scientific knowledge: 17%
- Medium: 30%
- High: 29%
- Low: 43%
- Medium: 60%
- High: 71%
Trust in climate scientists dwindles the farther right respondents sit along the political spectrum. Indeed, the politics of climate change range from a great service to mankind in the minds of many liberals to a corruption exercise by the liberal elite in the minds of many conservatives.
Climate Change and Voter Issues: Develop Your Strategy
A strong political campaign strategy will likely involve discussing voter issues close to hearts on both sides of the political spectrum. That could entail addressing supporters of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and supporters of Charlie Daniels, who tweeted: “If Al Gore will give up his big private jet I’ll speak to my cows about being less flatulent.”
Let political demographic research be your guide through the conversation.