Predicting the importance of global warming as a voting issue among registered voters in the United States

Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, Volume 2,2021,100008,
Eryn Campbell, John Kotcher, Edward Maibach, Seth A. Rosenthal, Anthony Leiserowit

Limiting climate change requires effective policy solutions. In democratic societies, voting for candidates who support climate policy solutions is arguably the most important action citizens can take. Therefore, understanding the dynamics of global warming as a voting issue is crucial for building public and political will for climate solutions. Using data from two nationally representative surveys conducted in November 2019 and April 2020, this exploratory study investigated the influences of cognitive, experiential, socio-cultural, and sociodemographic factors on two measures of perceived importance of global warming as a voting issue: absolute importance (i.e., how important is it?) and relative importance (i.e., is it the most important issue?). As expected, in both surveys, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to perceive global warming as an important voting issue. The perceived importance of global warming as a voting issue was also positively associated with certainty in belief that global warming is happening, perceived risk, worry, positive social norms, and discussing global warming with family and friends; in April 2020, it was also negatively associated with exposure to conservative media (The Fox News Channel). In both surveys, discussing global warming with family and friends was positively associated with considering global warming to be the most important voting issue, whereas perceived personal experience and worry were significant predictors in only one survey. These results suggest that global warming's importance as a voting issue is influenced by a range of individual, social, and media influences, and that the predictors of the issue's absolute importance to voters overlap only partially with the predictors of its relative importance.