OPINIONS IN THE STATES

Since elected officials are primarily responsible for and to their constituents, understanding public opinion on global warming on a state by state basis is useful. Such data may help elected officials be more responsive to their electorates. In a recent report, members of PPRG estimated state-level public opinion on a wide range of opinions related to global warming.

Dr. Krosnick presented findings from an earlier version of this analysis to Congressional representatives in the video below:

To generate the state-level data, this project combined results of PPRG surveys. Most surveys involved random digit-dial telephone interviewing, and a few involved data collected from probability samples of adults who answered questions via the Internet, recruited by random digit dialing and by mail. Surveys were conducted from 1997-2020. This large data set provided sufficient data to estimate public opinion in 48 states for at least one of the measures (not all questions were asked in every survey). Results are not reported when fewer than 50 people answered a question in a state. The methodology made statistical adjustments to account for differences in survey methodologies and changes in public opinion over time.

This page illustrates public opinion on global warming by state through colored maps for 22 survey questions.

Note: States colored gray in the maps below were those in which too few respondents were interviewed to permit calculating reliable statistics at the state level.

OPINIONS WITHIN THE STATES

Below are the results for each state on key questions regarding global warming:

Fundamentals

Percentage of each state who believed global warming has been happening (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • In all observed states, majorities of over 70% of residents believed that global warming has been occurring. The majority was highest in Massachusetts at 88% and lowest in Utah at 71%

 

Percentage of each state who believed that the earth will warm in the future (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • There was also a majority consensus among residents of all states that global warming would continue to occur in the future, with 60% or more residents in each state believing this. However, there was more variation amongst the states, with the smallest majority being Utah and Idaho at 61% and the largest being 86% in Rhode Island.
  • Most states had majorities of 70%-80% who believed global temperatures will continue to rise.

 

Percentage of each state who believed past warming has been caused by humans (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Strong majorities saw global warming as attributable to human activity.
  • Strongest levels of skepticism existed in the South, though even here overall belief in a human cause to climate change remained at roughly 75%.

 

Percentage of each state who believed warming will be a serious problem for the United States (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • While a majority of residents in all states believed that global warming will be a serious problem for the U.S., there was a great deal of variation in the size of the majorities.
  • The state with the largest majority was Rhode Island at 94%, while the state with the smallest majority was Idaho at only 60%, a gap of 34%.

 

Percentage of each state who believed warming will be a serious problem for the world (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Just as Americans saw global warming as a national problem, they also agreed it was an issue for the global community.
  • Most residents in all states said that they believed global warming will be a serious problem for the world, but the size of these majorities ranged from 62% in Idaho to 92% in Rhode Island.

 

Percentage of each state who believed 5 degrees of warming will be bad (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • In all observed states, a majority of residents believed that an additional five degrees of warming in the next 75 years would be bad.
  • However, this majority was smaller than on previous questions we have examined, being as low as 55% in Utah.

 

Percentage of each state who believed government should do more to address global warming (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Large majorities wanted to see the United States do more to fight global warming, with especially strong majorities in certain Western states like California (73%) and Arizona (75%), as well as some Northeastern states like New Jersey (77%) and Rhode Island (82%).

 

Engagement

Percentage of each state for whom warming was extremely important personally (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Recent surveys showed a large increase in the percent of Americans who said that global warming was extremely important.
  • Roughly a quarter of Americans believed global warming was important, with many states over 30%, including Rhode Island (33%), New Jersey (31%), Kentucky (31%), New Mexico (31%), Arizona (31%), and California (31%).

 

Percentage of each state who said they are highly knowledgeable about global warming (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Strong majorities in all states for which there are data said that they are knowledgeable about global warming, led by Vermont at 85%.

 

Government Policy

Percentage of each state who believed the United States should take action on climate change regardless of what other countries do (2015)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Americans largely supported action on climate change, even if it involves taking unilateral action.
  • 70%-80% of most states supported action on climate change regardless of what other countries do.
  • Data for this item only run through 2015.

 

Percentage of each state who believed the government should limit businesses’ greenhouse gas emissions (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Large majorities in the states supported regulations to limit greenhouse gases.
  • Variation between states on greenhouse gas regulations were modest, with the lowest (Mississippi) at 71% and the highest (Rhode Island) at 92%.

 

Percentage of each state who favored the government requiring/encouraging power plants to lower emissions (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Americans were supportive of regulating emissions by businesses.
  • Support ranged from the 68% to 92% in support of restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions by power plants.

 

Percentage of each state who favored a national cap-and-trade program (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Only Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and South Dakota, had a majority of individuals opposing cap-and-trade as government policy.
  • However, the majority was relatively small in many states, with most having below 70% support for this type of policy.

 

Percentage of each state who favored the government requiring/encouraging higher fuel economy standards (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Strong majorities across the states supported increasing fuel efficiency standards in cars.
  • Support for better fuel efficiency ranged from 60% to nearly 80%.

 

Percentage of each state who favored the government requiring/encouraging all-electric vehicles (2015)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Support for incentives for all-electric vehicles were popular on the coasts, though less popular on average in Southern states like Mississippi (46%) and Alabama (43%).
  • Data for this item only run through 2015.

 

Percentage of each state who favored the government requiring/encouraging appliances that use less electricity (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Increasing efficiency standards for appliances was more popular across the country, with a majority of residents in all states supporting it.
  • Eight states, including New York and California, had greater than 75% of residents favored the government requiring or encouraging higher fuel efficiency standards.

 

Percentage of each state who favored the government requiring/encouraging energy-efficient buildings (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Similarly, majorities of residents in all states also supported the government increasing the energy efficiency standards of buildings as well, with most states having majorities greater than 70%.

 

Percentage of each state who favored tax breaks to produce renewable energy (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Tax breaks for renewable energy were popular, especially in the Midwest.
  • Majorities of Americans in all states favored the government giving tax breaks to produce energy from renewable sources (water, wind, solar), with more than 80% support in most states.

 

Percentage of each state who favored tax breaks to reduce air pollution from coal (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Smaller majorities in all states also favored the government giving tax breaks to companies that use new methods to reduce air pollution from burning coal.
  • Kentucky (73%) and West Virginia (79%) had among the highest percentage of support for this policy, likely due to those states being major coal producers.

 

Percentage of each state who favored tax breaks to build nuclear power plants (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Giving tax breaks for building new nuclear power plants was an unpopular policy, with every state except Idaho (51%) and South Carolina (54%) having a minority of residents supporting it.

 

Percentage of each state who favored increased consumption taxes on electricity (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Electricity consumption taxes were deeply unpopular amongst residents in all states.
  • Minorities of residents supported the government increasing taxes on the use of electricity, with fewer than 30% of residents favoring this in a majority of the states.

 

Percentage of each state who favored increased consumption taxes on gasoline (2020)

Question wording can be found here.

  • Increasing taxes on gas was slightly more popular than electricity taxes but was still not supported by a majority of residents in most states.
  • The only states in which a majority of residents supported a higher gas tax were Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, New Jersey, and Vermont.

State Fact Sheets

The state fact sheets below outline the results of the surveys conducted to generate measures of public opinion of global warming in each state:

 
 
 
Click here for the methodology used in estimating the opinions in the states.
 
Click here for information on the estimates and standard errors for the analyses.
 
 
Many thanks to David Medeiros at the Stanford Geospatial Center and Resources for the Future for their help in generating the maps.