Update, June 21, 2017: A poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, conducted June 8-11, found less than one-third of Americans (29 percent) favor President Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Nearly half (46 percent) oppose Trump’s action. Just over half (52 percent) said they worry that quitting the climate pact may hurt the U.S. economy.
By Bill Dawson
Texas Climate News
Donald Trump predicted the American people would get “tired of winning” if they elected him.
While a pair of recent national polls didn’t pose that broad question, they showed his decision to pull the United States out of the non-binding Paris Climate Agreement was a loser with the public at large.
Trump’s action did score reasonably well among Republicans, however, which led some political analysts to suggest this is precisely the sort of limited win he needed in the midst of investigations into his campaign’s links with Russia – solidifying support among his most dedicated fans.
The two polls, released this week, were conducted after Trump announced last Thursday that the U.S. would exit the non-binding climate accord.
A survey by the Washington Post and ABC News found that 59 percent opposed Trump’s Paris decision and 28 percent supported it.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll also found overall disagreement with Trump’s action, but by a smaller margin – 49 percent opposed his move, while 38 percent backed it.
Both polls measured a sizable partisan divide, with Democrats and independents disapproving of the Paris withdrawal and Republicans supporting it.
The Post/ABC poll found these levels of disagreement with Trump – 88 percent among Democrats, 63 percent among independents, 25 percent among Republicans. In the Reuters/Ipsos poll, the corresponding disagreement numbers were 72 percent (Democrats), 51 percent (independents), 19 percent (Republicans).
David Axelrod, political commentator for CNN and former top aide to President Barack Obama, said on that network last week that he saw Trump’s Paris pullout as “a fundamentally political decision on the part of an embattled president who couldn’t brook a revolt among his base. And this was a key issue for his base.”
Analysts Perry Bacon Jr. and Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight agreed that “the move could help Trump reinforce his support among GOP voters and elected officials.” But they cautioned that, weighing the Paris decision’s effect on all voters, it might turn out to be a net negative for Trump politically: “It’s also possible that Trump gave a win to his base on an issue they don’t care that much about while angering the opposition on an issue they do care about.”
As TCN reported in March, worry about climate change among the American people as a whole appears to be growing.
That month, the polling organization Gallup reported that, compared to its findings in prior years, it had found “record percentages of Americans are concerned about global warming, believe it is occurring, consider it a serious threat and say it is caused by human activity.”
In May, a Fox News poll found 60 percent saying they were concerned about climate change, up from 36 percent in the network’s poll in February 2013. By contrast, 51 percent told Fox pollsters they were concerned about illegal immigration, down from 60 percent in February 2013.
The findings of opposition to Trump’s Paris decision in the Post/ABC and Reuters/Ipsos polls in the last few days were consistent with results on the Paris question in opinion surveys before Trump’s decision.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, for instance, found following last November’s election that 69 percent of all registered voters wanted Trump to keep the U.S. in the voluntary Paris pact, in which 195 nations pledged in 2015 to make varying, self-selected reductions in their climate-disrupting pollution. In the Yale survey, majorities in all states supported staying in the accord, including about 65 percent in Texas.
Bill Dawson is the editor of Texas Climate News.