Archive for July, 2017

New poll: climate change is seen as the most left-wing issue – full results

Posted in Climate Majority on July 31st, 2017 by Leo – 6 Comments

While researching for The Climate Majority I ran a poll with PSB to look at:

  1. Which issues are seen as being concerns of left- or right-wing people
  2. Whether that perception matches the reality

This post sets out the results of the poll. I also have a comment piece today in Climate Home, which discusses its findings.

We conducted two separate polls, in the UK and the US. The questions were essentially the same, except for small differences in language. Full data is available here.

The poll was based around eight of the most high-profile public policy issues. For each issue we asked:

  1. Regardless of your own political views, what kind of person do you think is generally most worried about the following issues?
  2. How worried are you personally about each of the following issues?

In both countries, climate change is one of the issues that worries the most people. Healthcare is comfortably top (the polls were conducted in November-December 2016, so before the latest US healthcare debates but also before Trump increased attention to climate change) but climate is in the next group, along with immigration and crime. It’s a bit higher in the list if we look only at how many people are very worried, but not much lower if we also look at those who are somewhat worried. Either way it sits along issues that are usually considered of national importance.

Focusing now on the US:

Climate change is widely seen as an interest of liberals in the US. Along with inequality, it stands out as being perceived as the issue about which concern is most restricted to liberals. It is also seen as the one with the greatest partisan skew: 46% think liberals are the people most worried about climate change, compared with 41% thinking conservatives are the people most worried about immigration.

Now onto the reality of who actually is worried about each of these issues.

It’s true that climate change (along with inequality) worries liberals more than other people. That’s particularly the case if we look at who’s very worried about each issue – though less if we look at who’s also somewhat worried about each. In terms of the gap between liberals and other groups, climate change is the most skewed… but there’s a crucial caveat to that:

Despite the skew, more moderates are very worried about climate change than are very worried about most other issues. Even if we also look at somewhat worried, it’s still a top concern of moderates – not just of liberals.

So, a reason the skew looks so big is because conservatives are mostly unworried about it. Liberals are more worried about the issues that are heavily associated with conservatives (defense, immigration and national debt) than conservatives are about supposedly liberal issues like climate change. This is arguably more a story about conservatives being notably uninterested in climate change than liberals being unusually interested.

So in the US, climate change is seen as a liberal issue but it’s actually one that liberals and moderates are widely worried about. It’s only conservatives who are generally not worried.

And now looking at the UK:

The most striking result is that polarisation in the UK is much less than in the US. While climate change is often seen as a left-wing issue and immigration as a right-wing issue (and so on) most issues are mostly seen as having no political skew. That is, in most cases a plurality think that people’s political views make no difference to whether they are worried about the issue.

And finally, on what people in the UK actually think about the issues, we’ve got a similar picture to the US, but one that’s less dramatic. Climate change is quite polarised, although a bit less than inequality is and less than climate change is in the US…

… but one reason it’s less polarised in the UK is that left-wing British people are less worried about climate change than US liberals (this isn’t because the poll defined US liberals more narrowly than the UK left – in fact it took 28% in the US as liberals and 18% in the UK as left-wing). Conservatives / right-wing people are similarly relaxed about climate change in both countries. The polarisation seems to be less in the UK because the British left are, generally, somewhat less worried rather than because the US right are so opposed to dealing with it (although that ignores a separate point that the US right includes people who are much more vituperative in their opposition to dealing with climate change than most of the UK right are).

My book, The Climate Majority, looks at the consequences of climate change being seen as a left-wing concern – how that limits action to cut emissions, and how those of us worried about the problem can overcome the polarisation.

The Climate Majority: apathy and action in an age of nationalism

Posted in Climate Majority on July 29th, 2017 by Leo – 1 Comment

I’m really pleased to be able to announce that I have a book coming out.

It’s about how public opinion limits action on climate change and what can be done to overcome climate apathy.

The Climate Majority: apathy and action in an age of nationalism will be published by New Internationalist on 21 September. You will be able to buy it directly from the publisher, from Amazon or of course from your local bookshop.

Here’s a bit more about the book:

“The Climate Majority” is not about the climate deniers or the climate activists. It’s about apathy, about those who don’t talk about global warming – the billions of people who have heard plenty about climate change and acknowledge there’s a problem, but who are just not engaged enough to stimulate the change required to stop it. 

This is the first book to investigate climate apathy, to describe how it prevents action to stop climate change and to show how it can be beaten with an approach developed for political campaigns. Drawing on opinion polls, psychological research and examples of successful campaigns from across the globe the author asks ‘Who are the ‘swing’ voters?’ ‘What do they think and why?’ and ‘How can we talk about climate change in a way that will provoke action?’  

Preventing extreme climate change is one of the hardest tasks humans have ever faced. Rising nationalism and the US plan to withdraw from the Paris agreement are blows to progress. But only by influencing those who have, so far, remained outside the debate will we have a chance of building a climate majority to back the measures required to avoid disaster.  

It’s the product of more than two years of intensive researching and writing – but also of the many more years I’ve been running this site (including Climate Sock before it). I’m immensely grateful to everyone who’s read and commented on the site over the years and those who have told me they’ve found my writing to be useful. Without that feedback it’s unlikely that I would have persevered.

Where UK politics stands at the summer break: Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 27th, 2017 by Leo – Be the first to comment

I was on Polling Matters this week for the last episode before the summer break, with Keiran and Rob Vance.

We talked about where things stand in UK politics now, including polling showing that the Tories are now seen as more divided than Labour, Chuka Umunna’s recent tweet that seemingly challenged the Labour leadership’s position on Europe. We looked at what polling on Brexit tells us about public opinion on the subject and indeed whether public opinion even matters on the issue given the relative lack of difference in policy on Europe between Labour and the Tories.

We finished by discussing what we will be looking out for when Westminster returns in the autumn.

You can listen to the episode here:

Jeremy Corbyn is the UK’s most popular politician – Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 19th, 2017 by Leo – Comments Off on Jeremy Corbyn is the UK’s most popular politician – Polling Matters

On Polling Matters this week, Keiran and I discussed an exclusive Polling Matters / Opinium poll, which measured the favourability / unfavourability of a series of front-line politicians. The results were very interesting, including that Corbyn was, comfortably, the UK’s most popular politician – but he was also polarising, with many people very unfavourable towards him.

You can listen to us talking through the results here:

 

Do the public think Corbyn is ready to be Prime Minister? Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 8th, 2017 by Leo – Comments Off on Do the public think Corbyn is ready to be Prime Minister? Polling Matters

I was on Polling Matters with Keiran Pedley and Habib Butt from Political Betting. Among the topics we covered were:

1) What the polls tell us about the state of the parties

2) Who the voters think would make the best Prime Minister and what those numbers mean

3) Polling Matters / Opinium numbers on why people voted as they did in June and whether Corbyn is ready to be PM or not

4) How Remainers and Brexiteers like their steak

You can listen to the episode here: