Democrats Say Climate Change Is As Big a Threat As ISIS

A new poll shows how Democrats and Republicans view security threats to the U.S.

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Aug. 28, 2014, 1:08 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats don’t en­tirely see eye-to-eye on threats posed by Is­lam­ic mil­it­ants, Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, and oth­er dangers. But those dif­fer­ences pale com­pared with Amer­ic­ans’ massive par­tis­an di­vide over how they view the threat from cli­mate change, new polling shows.

Sixty-eight per­cent of Demo­crats see cli­mate change as a “ma­jor threat” to the U.S., com­pared with just 25 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans, ac­cord­ing to Pew Re­search Cen­ter data re­leased Thursday. That 43-point spread is the largest di­vi­sion in views over any threat that Pew asked about in the poll, which was con­duc­ted earli­er this month.

The data also show that Demo­crats con­sider the threat of cli­mate change to be on par with that of the rad­ic­al group IS­IS. Sixty-five per­cent of Demo­crats see the group as a ma­jor threat to the U.S., com­pared with 78 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans.

Sim­il­arly, 67 per­cent of Demo­crats see Is­lam­ic ex­trem­ist groups like al-Qaida as a ma­jor threat, com­pared with 80 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew poll: “As in pri­or sur­veys on in­ter­na­tion­al threats, most Re­pub­lic­ans say that glob­al cli­mate change is either a minor threat (32%) or not a threat (40%) to the U.S. Among Re­pub­lic­ans and GOP lean­ers, most (62%) who agree with the Tea Party say that glob­al cli­mate change is ‘not a threat.’ Non-Tea Party Re­pub­lic­ans are di­vided: 39% think glob­al cli­mate change is a minor threat, 33% say it is a ma­jor threat, and 25% say it is not a threat.”

The mar­gin of er­ror for party-spe­cif­ic an­swers in the poll, which was giv­en to 1,501 Amer­ic­an adults, is plus or minus 5.2 per­cent­age points for Demo­crats, 5.8 points for Re­pub­lic­ans, and 7.4 points for the smal­ler tea-party sample.

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