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Poll: climate change is still the most divisive policy issue among Americans

One of the driving factors of the split between Democrats and Republicans is the extremely skeptical faction of tea party members.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 22, 2014 at 1:33 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) --A new poll of residents in New Hampshire, conducted by the Carsey Institute, shows that climate change is the most divisive policy issue among Americans.

The pollsters surveyed 568 New Hampshire residents, and results showed that there was a 53 percentage point difference between Republicans and Democrats on whether they trust scientists' information on environmental issues. Only 28 percent of tea party members said they trust scientists on the issue compared to 60 percent of establishment Republicans. Eighty-three percent of Democrats said that they trust the scientific evidence on environmental issues.

"I didn't realize it would be at the level of division that it was," said survey researcher Lawrence Hamilton. Hamilton noted that Republicans and tea party members in New Hampshire aren't exactly reflective of elsewhere in America, "In general, New Hampshire is not drastically unrepresentative." He said that, when evaluating Republicans and tea party members on the national level he "would expect similar gaps to show up."

The amount of dissonance on the issue of climate change has made headlines recently, especially since 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is occurring and is due to human activity.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in an interview he doesn't believe "that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it."

Another 2016 potential presidential hopeful, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that politics are dumbing down the debate on climate change and he doubts the scientific research supporting climate change.

It's not just politicians who are skeptical of the scientific evidence behind climate change. One in four Americans have doubts about global warming. Skeptics were taken to task by political comedian John Oliver who said, "That doesn't matter. You don't need people's opinion on fact."

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