Politics and Public Opinion

Polls on Earth Day, global warming, and terrorism

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Earth Day Ennui: We have just released our comprehensive collection of poll data on the environment, energy, and nuclear power. The pollsters haven’t paid much attention to the environment, and it appears that no pollster asked whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would do a better job handling the issue. A few asked about which candidate would handle energy issues better, and Barack Obama bested Mitt Romney.

Energy: There was more polling activity in 2012 on energy issues than environmental ones. Solid majorities in the latest polls favor building the Keystone XL pipeline. In Pew’s latest poll from March, 66% approved.


Global Warming: Recent Gallup and Pew polls show that majorities of Americans believe global warming is real and that it is already happening. But most Americans (64%) in Gallup’s polling don’t expect it to have a serious effect on them in their lifetimes. That may be one reason why only 28% said the issues should be a top priority for the administration and Congress in a January 2013 Pew poll. In the poll, it ranked 21st of 21 issue Pew explored.


Terrorism in the US: Polls after 9/11 showed that Americans believed there would be another terrorist attack on our shores. The question for most people was not if, but when. In a March 2013 Gallup poll, 34% said they personally worry a great deal about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the US. Twenty-nine percent said the worried about such attacks a “fair amount.”


Terrorism in Your Town: In a new Fox News poll of registered voters, 65% said they were not worried about a terrorist attack where they live or work. Two thirds said local authorities in their area were either very or somewhat prepared to handle a terrorist attack in their area.

Is Obama Keeping Us Safe?: In a November 2012 Gallup/USA Today poll, 65% said President Obama would be able to keep the country safe from terrorism. That response may explain the president’s high marks on handling terrorism. Fifty-nine percent in a February 2013 Fox poll of registered voters approved of the job he was doing handling terrorism, as did 57% in a February CBS News poll, and 59% in a February Bloomberg poll.

Security: The new Fox News poll indicated that Americans may be unwilling to tolerate increased security measures in the wake of the Boston bombing. Forty-three percent said they would be willing to give up some of their personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism. Forty-five percent said they would not. In May 2006, the last time the question was asked, 54% said they would willing to exchange some personal freedom for a reduced threat, while 36% said they wouldn’t.

2 thoughts on “Polls on Earth Day, global warming, and terrorism

  1. I which you had put the nuclear-power chart here.

    I’m finding that young people, college age to mid-20s, have a much more open mind about this than older folks.


    The document makes the case for nuclear power as a benefit to public health, even ignoring CO2, especially for people in the eastern third of the US (downwind of midwestern coal-fired power plants).

  2. A minor note, the label on the global warming graph is off,it seems to imply the bottom line is “no” instead of the top line. Unfortunately the real question is “will claims of AGW have a serious effect” in our lifetimes, which is far different.

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