“Thoughtful and informed”? Really? When was the last time you heard someone not wearing a tinfoil hat describing the American public as “thoughtful and informed”?
Jon Krosnick is a professor at Stanford who studies Americans’ attitudes about hot-button issues. He’s surveyed opinions about climate change since 1995. As he points out, on most issues, voters are pretty evenly split; so anything a candidate says will annoy about as many people as it pleases. There’s no net benefit. But that isn’t true of green points of view.
Many Americans, including people in Washington, do not realize how one-sided the public is on this. If they did, they would change their approach. I’ve been to Capitol Hill to talk to legislators and they’ve said: “You’re doing national surveys. I don’t think the people in my state feel that way.” So we’ve started looking at states and haven’t found a single state where a majority of residents are skeptical, but legislators think they are. West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas — even in those states, large majorities are expressing green points of view….
What we’ve found is about 80% of Americans — I never see 80% of Americans agreeing on anything when it comes to other issues, so this is very unusual — believe the federal government should limit greenhouse gas emissions by businesses and in particular by public utilities.
Krosnick did say that Fox News viewers tend to be an exception to this majority consensus–and noted that it is impossible to know whether that is because Fox misinforms its audience, or because the audience is composed of individuals who choose to watch Fox in order to have pre-existing beliefs confirmed.
The next time James Inhofe throws a snowball in the Senate chambers to “prove” climate change is a myth, someone should tell him that a “thoughtful and informed” public has moved on. A long time ago.