According to a new analysis of five consecutive surveys conducted by researchers at the University of Florida, Florida Republicans now believe in climate change. This trend is evidently trending upwards. Florida Atlantic University. The climate change issue may therefore no longer be an effective campaign trail theme for the state’s party leaders as both parties gear up for the mid-term elections.
Even though Florida Democrats register a higher belief rate (96 percent) than do residents affiliated with the GOP (88 percent), the latter group’s share appears more than sufficient for Republican lawmakers to feel that openly acknowledging the science of climate change will not erode their popular support. These numbers are not indicative of a significant partisan divide on this question. However, party affiliation does not necessarily indicate differences in opinion about climate change. For example, approximately half of Florida Republicans believe climate change is primarily a human-caused problem, while three-quarters (or more) of Florida Democrats believe so. This distinction may explain why the state’s Republican leaders appear willing to discuss climate change solutions but not willing to reference the underlying reasons for the changing climate.
These overarching general beliefs are echoed by respondents’ support for or against specific climate-related policies. For example, nearly three quarters (72 percent) of Floridians, including 60 percent of Republicans, support teaching climate change causes, consequences and solutions in K-12 classrooms, and close to half (47 percent) are willing to pay $10 per month to strengthen Florida’s infrastructure to weather hazards. The tax question is not linked to age or race. However, income does matter. Higher-income individuals are more supportive of the tax than those with lower incomes.
These climate change opinions among Florida Republicans appear to diverge significantly from the national-level, where only approximately one-half of surveyed Republicans believe in “global warming,” and one-third in a human caused “global warming,” according to recent national surveys. Consequently, the national party may continue to oppose openly acknowledging the science behind “global warming,” even while statements and actions by Florida Republicans likely take a generally different approach to climate change.
“This sequence of results – five surveys since 2019 – begins to paint a picture of Floridians’ attitudes during a period of particularly dynamic political, economic and environmental conditions. During the period of these five surveys, public opinion about climate change was likely shaped negatively by the Trump Administration’s 2017 decision to retract the United States from the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Accord,” said Colin PolskyDirector of the Center for Environmental Studies and a professor of geosciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “Similarly, the importance of climate change for the public was likely diminished in response to new, immediate daily concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic and economic crises it triggered. As such, these Florida opinion survey results about climate change can be viewed as reflecting public sentiment net of at least two significant external and independent influences on public opinion.”
The five most recent surveys were conducted in English between Sept. 1-18 by the Center for Environmental StudiesFAU. The sample included 1,400 Floridians aged 18 and over. There was a margin for error of +/-2.62 percent. GreatBlue Research provided the online panel that collected the data. The entire sample’s responses were weighted to adjust to age, race, education, and gender according the 2019 American Community Survey by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Because the sample size is smaller, subsets can have higher margins of error. FAU’s Business & Economics Polling InitiativeAssist with data collection for the four initial surveys.