Geographic Variation in U.S. Climate Change Opinion at State and Local Scales
20 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 27, 2014
Addressing climate change in the United States requires enactment of national, state, and local mitigation and adaptation policies. The success of these initiatives depends on public opinion, policy support, and behaviors at appropriate scales. Public opinion, however, is typically measured with national surveys that obscure geographic variability across regions, states, and localities. Here we present independently validated high-resolution opinion estimates using a multilevel regression and poststratification model. The model accurately predicts climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy preferences at the state, congressional district, metropolitan, and county levels, using a concise set of demographic and geographic predictors. The analysis finds substantial variation in public opinion across the nation. Nationally, 63% of Americans believe global warming is happening, but county-level estimates range from 43-80%, leading to a diversity of political environments for climate policy. These estimates provide an important new source of information for policymakers, educators, and scientists to more effectively address the challenges of climate change.
Keywords: public opinion, global warming, climate change, risk perception, multilevel regression and poststratification
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