Joe Romm at the renewable energy-funded Center for American Progress published a doozy of a self-delusional article Thursday (https://thinkprogress.org/as-gop-shrinks-under-trump-partisan-divide-on-climate-grows-8075b4825ce4/) claiming global warming policy is shrinking the Republican Party base. Keep believing that, Joe, while your Democratic Party pals suffer another disappointing election this November.
Romm writes that a growing number of Americans believe global warming is happening. Romm also writes that fewer Americans are self-identifying with the Republican Party. Romm claims the two are connected, while throwing in for good measure the notion that President Donald Trump is chasing Republicans out of the Party. But how well do Romm’s assertions hold up under careful examination? The answer is not very well.
Regarding Romm’s first point, Americans’ views on global warming have changed very little during the past decade. Romm quotes a recent survey of 751 adults indicating 73% believe global warming is happening. (http://closup.umich.edu/issues-in-energy-and-environmental-policy/37/as-americans-experienced-the-warmest-may-on-record-their-acceptance-of-global-warming-reaches-a-new-high/) The survey claims this is the highest total since 2008. Maybe so, but in 2008 the same survey showed 72% believed global warming is happening – just 1% less than today. Moreover, in five of the past six years at least 70% of survey respondents similarly believed the earth is warming. An increase of a single percentage point (which is well within the margin of error for merely 751 people surveyed) during the past decade is hardly a sign of dramatic public opinion change. Where was Romm when last year’s survey showed merely 70% of Americans believed the earth is warming, compared to 72% in 2008?
Just as importantly, the belief that the earth is warming is not an issue that divides alarmists and skeptics. Global temperature data show the earth has been warming for more than a century, beginning well before the invention of coal-fired power plants and automobiles. Alarmists and skeptics are divided on the context, pace, and consequences of warming temperatures, not whether the earth warmed during the past century. The poll Romm quotes addresses none of the points that divide alarmists and skeptic.
Regarding Romm’s second point, he is again overstating and misrepresenting a minor polling blip. According to the Gallup poll that Romm cites (https://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx), there is no significant change in the percentage of Americans self-identifying as Republicans, but there is a dramatic decline in the percentage of Americans self-identifying as Democrats. Gallup’s most recent poll on party identification (June 2018) shows 27% of Americans self-identify as Republicans and 29% self-identify as Democrats. At the time of President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, 28% identified as Republicans. So, yes, the data indicate a 1% decline in Republican Party affiliation (which again is well within the margin of polling error) since January 2017. But let’s look at some more meaningful polling trends than a 1% short-term decline in Republican self-identification.
In June 2008, exactly 10 years prior to the most recent Gallup poll, 26% of Americans self-identified as Republican and 37% self-identified as Democrat. That shows a 1% increase during the past 10 years in people self-identifying as Republicans and an 8% decline during the past 10 years in people identifying as Democrats. The biggest gain has been people identifying as Independents, rising from 36% to 43% since 2008.
To the extent Romm likes to tie global warming positions to party identification, it should be noted that Barack Obama made global warming a central political issue during his eight years in office. Since Obama took office and focused public attention on his alarmist global warming theories, people have fled the Democratic Party in droves.
Joe Romm may enjoy misrepresenting polling data to convince the Center for American Progress’ leftist donors and renewable energy industry patrons that he and his alarmist pals are winning the global warming political war, but the facts tell an entirely different story.