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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 03:25 PM ET, 12/01/2011

Poll watcher: Republicans split on global warming; health-care reform and GOP intensity

Republican split on global warming

Belief in global warming has recovered somewhat this year after a sharp falloff in 2008 and 2009, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Thursday. Currently, 63 percent of Americans say there is “solid evidence” that the earth’s temperature has increased in past decades. That number is up from 57 percent two years ago, but still far from highs of 77 percent in 2006 and 2007.

A key feature of the initial drop in global warming belief was a burgeoning partisan divide, with Republicans and independents becoming markedly less convinced. The new poll reveals a growing internal divide within the GOP between conservatives and moderates, as well as between tea party and non-tea party Republicans.

More than six in 10 moderate or liberal Republicans in the new poll say there is solid evidence of global warming (up 22 points from 2009), while barely three in 10 conservative Republicans say the same. And while 30 percent of Republicans who agree with the tea party believe in global warming, that jumps to 56 percent of non-tea party Republicans. Democrats continue to be the strongest believers – over three quarters say there is solid evidence.

Some academics have investigated why people believe or doubt global warming’s existence. A 2010 paper suggested that the falloff in the belief that global warming is happening in 2009 may have reflected a shifting political calculation rather than a change in basic understanding of climate change. (The paper was authored by survey researchers at Harvard, ABC News and Post polling manager Peyton M. Craighill).

A 2011 working paper found evidence that for political conservatives, shifts in local temperatures have an impact on belief in global warming. The research, by Tatyana Deryugina at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, was conducted by examining Gallup polls and local weather patterns.

Opposition to health-care law softens after spike

After showing a record 51 percent of Americans with unfavorable views of the health-care reform law in October, opposition softened to 44 percent in November’s Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll (pdf). Favorable ratings of the law – at 37 percent – are still near their record low from October.

Among those who dislike the law, more (44 percent) say it’s due to general feelings about the “direction of the country and what’s going on in Washington” than cite what they “know about the health reform law” as grounds for opposition (25 percent). More than a quarter, 28 percent, cite both as a reason.

Majorities of the public back 14 of 15 aspects of the law tested in the poll, but just 35 percent back the so-called individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. As we’ve noted before, popularity of the individual mandate seems to hinge on the requirement that Americans pay a fine for not having insurance.

Gingrich peaks, Romney dwindles and Cain plummets in intense support

Newt Gingrich’s numbers continue to rise in Gallup’s “positive intensity score,” which analyzes the gap between strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable views of each candidate among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. In August, Gingrich barely registered a positive score in Gallup polls. Romney has fallen somewhat since October, while Cain has plummeted since then. The poll was completed before the latest scandal surrounding accusations that Cain engaged in 14-year long affair.



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By  |  03:25 PM ET, 12/01/2011

Categories:  Republican Party, Health care, GOP nomination

 
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