Voting Behavior Study 2 – Global Warming and the 2012 White House Race

A 2012 survey asked a nationally representative sample of American adults about their presidential voting intentions and thoughts on global warming action. Similar to Study 1, this research sought to learn if candidates’ global warming views were a consideration for the electorate, and whether a voter’s own attitudes on the subject would influence how he or she voted.

Research details

Who would you vote for?

Respondents were asked about their candidate preferences:

“If the presidential election were being held today and the candidates were Barack Obama, the Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the Republican, for whom would you vote?” (note that the order of “Barack Obama, the Democrat” and “Mitt Romney, the Republican” was randomized across respondents)

Should the government do more about global warming?

Respondents were asked for their own views on how much the government should do and their perceptions on how much candidates think the government should do:

“How much do you think the U.S. government should do about global warming – a great deal, quite a bit, some, a little, or nothing?” “How much do you think the U.S. government is doing now to deal with global warming – a great deal, quite a bit, some, a little, or nothing?”

“In your opinion, how much government action does Barack Obama/Mitt Romney want on global warming – a great deal, quite a bit, some, a little, or nothing?”


People were more likely to support candidates whom they perceived to share their own views on the subject. This finding held when other variables were controlled, taking into account voting preferences tied to political party affiliation, ideology, interest in the election campaign, sex, age, race, ethnicity, education, and region). For example, a very “green” respondent would be more likely to vote for Mr. Obama than an average respondent or a very “not-green” respondent (see the figure below).

Slide2A majority of the issue public on global warming said they would vote for Obama over Romney. These results indicate that the climate change issue does matter in presidential elections.

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Survey details

Abt SRBI conducted a random, digit-dial telephone survey of a national probability sample of U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, between June 13 and June 21, 2012. Interviews were conducted with 603 respondents on a landline phone, and 201 people on a cellular phone. Interviews were in English only.

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