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Published October 1st 2020

2020 US Election: The Climate Change Divide

Brandwatch Qriously data reveals how likely Trump and likely Biden supporters view one of the most divisive issues of our time.

As part of our ongoing US Election Bulletins, we’re using Brandwatch Qriously to survey Americans on who they plan to vote for, as well as to get their views on the big issues.

In this blog, we’ll be focusing on perceptions of climate change. The data is based on our survey of 3,309 respondents across the US (conducted September 17 to September 20 2020) as well as analysis of social media posts.

Note: We’d encourage you to sign up for the next bulletin to get all our latest data on the election straight to your inbox. And, if you want to take a look at the data itself, Brandwatch Qriously election data is released under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) v1.0. Feel free have a dig around or do your own analysis using our tables and the raw data.

The majority of Americans believe in climate change

Using Brandwatch Qriously, we asked the American people for their views and beliefs around climate change. For the purposes of this survey, we defined climate change as “the raising of the Earth’s average temperature.”

The majority of American adults believe in climate change (64%), although that falls to 47% for those who believe it’s caused by human activity. 10% say they don’t believe in it at all.

But there was one factor that united people. For better or worse, 65% of Americans told us in answer to a separate question that they felt the issue has been politicized, either by one party or both.

The political divide

It’s clear this is a partisan issue in the US.

In the same Qriously survey, we asked respondents who said they were likely to vote (or had already cast a postal ballot) either for Biden or for Trump: “do you believe in ‘climate change?'”.

23% of likely Trump voters don’t believe in climate change, compared to just 3% of likely Biden voters.

A huge 76% of likely Biden supporters reported that they believe climate change is caused by humans. In comparison, just 21% of likely Trump supporters agree that humans activity is responsible for climate change.

Trump has supporters spread across the spectrum on the issue, suggesting it’s not an area of opportunity for him. This fits with his often contradictory record on the subject, which has included claiming the concept of climate change was created by China, and, just a few weeks later, claiming it is real and a “very serious subject.”

The education divide

Politics wasn’t the only factor that affected how people view climate change.

Views on climate change differ based on education level. The higher the educational level you reach, the more likely you are to believe climate change is caused by humans.

Having said that, the percentage of people saying they don’t believe in climate change at all remains fairly consistent across all groups.

Some agreement

When it comes down to it, climate change, although divisive and complex, does have some general consensus.

The majority of American adults believe in climate change. And many believe the issue has come politicized.

It will be interesting to see how this issue continues to play out as we edge closer to election day.

Remember to sign up to our US Election Bulletin here. You’ll be first to receive insights on the big issues, as well as which candidate is in the lead.

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