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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