On Global Warming, the Tea Party is Worse than the GOP

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There’s a fascinating new public opinion analysis out today from Anthony Leiserowitz and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. It looks at political divides and how they impact one’s views of the science, but with this new twist—Tea Partiers and Republicans are treated differently.

And look what results:

  • 53 percent of Republicans believe global warming is happening, but just 34 % of Tea Partiers.
  • 56 percent of Republicans, but 69 % of Tea Party members, say there is “a lot of disagreement” among scientists about whether global warming is happening.
  • Tea Party members are much more likely than Republicans (45 % to 20 %) to have heard of “ClimateGate.”
  • Staggering, but not surprising if you’ve been following my posts: “Tea Party members are much more likely to say that they are ‘very well informed’ about global warming than the other groups,” according to the Yale study. “Likewise, they are also much more likely to say they ‘do not need any more information’ about global warming to make up their mind.”

In other words, Tea Party members are more extreme than Republicans in their rejection of the scientific consensus on global warming—simultaneously more wrong, and also more sure of themselves.

What’s up with that?

Well, the study also shows that Tea Partiers are more likely than other Republicans to be “born again” Christians and to doubt evolution, and highly individualistic and anti-egalitarian in their moral values.

In short, what we appear to be seeing in them is a kind of merger of right wing free market views on the one hand, and the unwavering certainty associated with certain forms of fundamentalist religion on the other.

They know they’re right, they know that liberals and scientists—and most of all, President Obama—are wrong, and there is no swaying them in that. (There is also some reason to think that Tea Party members are authoritarian in their outlook, wanting to impose various types of Christian views in government.)

When you merge this with previous data on white male conservatives and climate change, it becomes apparent that the person least likely to change his mind on this issue and accept the science is a 1) white 2) male 3) conservative 4) Tea Party American.

So what should we do? This gets back to the whole debate with Dave Roberts about whether to “beat” them by being better at politics. That’s a tactical discussion where folks will differ, but one thing is clear–we’re all better off in knowing precisely who the opposition is.

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