Dusty DeVinney loads "vote here" signs onto a cart in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, ahead of Tuesday's primary.
Residents of five Northeastern states are voting Tuesday in crucial presidential primary contests. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has a chance to all but clinch the nomination with a strong showing. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is looking for massive victories that could put him one step closer to securing a majority of the delegates at the GOP convention in Cleveland.
Back on March 1—as a dozen or so states around the country voted on Super Tuesday—we pointed out that the electorate that day contained an awful lot of deniers. Less than half of adults in those states—48 percent—agreed with the scientific consensus that humans are mostly responsible for recent warming, according to data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. Drawing from more than 13,000 interviews, the Yale researchers used a complicated statistical model to estimate the 2014 views of residents of every state, county, and congressional district on key climate science and policy questions.
This Tuesday, the voters look a bit different than they did on March 1. Residents of the Northeast hold some of the country's most progressive (and accurate) views on climate change, according to the Yale study. Small majorities in most of Tuesday's state's—as well as in nearby New York, which voted last week—embrace the scientific consensus.
Here's another way to crunch the same data. The researchers combined people who said global warming is caused mostly by humans with those who attribute it to both humans and nature. They also combined two kinds of climate science deniers: people who think the warming is natural and those who don't think the planet is getting warmer at all.
Those numbers look pretty good for science, especially when you compare them with those from some of the Southern states that voted on Super Tuesday.
But here's the thing: Trump may insist global warming is a "hoax," but that isn't stopping him from winning in states where most people understand he's wrong. He won Massachusetts and Vermont on Super Tuesday. He won overwhelmingly in New York last week. And he's leading in the polls in every state voting Tuesday.
That's probably because voters in Republican primaries don't have the same views on science as the average resident of their states. In New Hampshire, for instance, large majorities of Democrats and independents say humans are the main cause of global warming. But only a small minority of Republicans agree. Trump won New Hampshire by 20 percentage points.
Now, a new report from Media Matters for America (my former employer) reveals just how bad the problem has been. According to Media Matters, there have been a whopping 1,477 questions asked during the 20 Republican and Democratic debates so far. Just 22 of those questions—or about 1.5 percent—have been about climate change. Nine of the debates, including one that took place four days after the historic Paris climate agreement, included no global warming questions whatsoever.
The performance of the networks has varied substantially. ABC has hosted two debates, and PBS has hosted one; neither network asked a single climate question, according to Media Matters. Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business, have hosted five debates; less than 1 percent of their questions have been about climate. The same is true for CBS, which has hosted two debates. CNN (six debates) and the various NBC-affiliated networks (three debates) have done a bit better. Univision, by contrast, focused on climate change in more than 7 percent of the questions in its recent Democratic debate.
Some debate moderators have paid far more attention to climate than others. According to data provided by Media Matters, CNN's Jake Tapper asked five climate questions—nearly a quarter of all the climate questions so far. CNN's Anderson Cooper asked four, and the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty, who co-moderated the Univision debate, asked three.
Questions in the Democratic debates were more than twice as likely to focus on climate as questions in the Republican debates, according to Media Matters. What's more, the GOP's climate science-denying front-runners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have not had to answer a single question about the issue. (Cruz was asked about his position on ethanol mandates.)
The Media Matters study doesn't include the GOP's so-called "undercard" debates, which featured an assortment of low-polling candidates and tended to air during the West Coast's workday. Those debates actually featured some of the most interesting exchanges on climate. Here's former New York Gov. George Pataki in CNBC's October 28 undercard debate, criticizing his fellow Republicans for refusing the accept the scientific consensus:
On Thursday, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney trashed his party's 2016 front-runner, Donald Trump, as a phony and con artist who is leading the GOP to electoral disaster. And sure, there's some truth to that. But the two formerly pro-choice Northeast Republican businessmen have more in common than they'd like to acknowledge—from their records on immigration to their favorite sport(s) stars to their choice of profanity. Okay, maybe not the last one.
See if you can tell them apart:
Photo credits: Trump: Allen Eyestone/Zuma; Romney: Eric Draper/Zuma
Super Tuesday voters at Sherrod Elementary School in Arlington, Texas LM Otero/AP
Voters in a dozen or so states are heading to the polls Tuesday for the year's biggest presidential primary clashes so far. The victors will find themselves a giant step closer to the Oval Office, where they would have a chance to reshape US policy on a wide range of issues, including climate change. So we decided to take a look at what voters in the Super Tuesday states think about global warming.
Last year, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released a nationwide study of Americans' attitudes toward climate science and policy. In many states—especially the large bloc of Southern states voting on Tuesday—the results were not particularly encouraging.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists are 95 percent certain that human activities are responsible for most of the dramatic warming since the 1950s. But according to Yale's estimates, that opinion is shared by less than half of adults in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Overall, just 48 percent of adults in the Super Tuesday states accept the scientific consensus.
Here's a slightly different way to look at the data. Yale combined those who believe global warming is mostly driven by humans with those who said it's caused by both nature and humans. The researchers also combined two types of climate science deniers: those who believe the warming is natural and those who simply don't believe the world is getting warmer. This makes the numbers look a bit better, but in many of the Super Tuesday states, a huge number of people still clearly reject the scientific consensus.
President Barack Obama blasted the Republican presidential field during a press conference Tuesday afternoon, calling out the candidates on everything from climate change to immigration.
Obama, following two days of negotiations at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in California, was asked by NBC News' Ron Allen about how foreign leaders at the event had reacted to GOP front-runner Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
"The other countries around the world, they kind of count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense."
"I think foreign observers are troubled by some of the rhetoric that's been taking place in these Republican primaries and Republican debates," Obama responded. But he added that the feeling wasn't confined to Trump's comments. "He may up the ante in anti-Muslim sentiment," said the president, "but if you look at what the other Republicans have said, that's pretty troubling, too."
Obama then criticized the candidates' positions on immigration (watch above), before turning to global warming. "They're all denying climate change," he said. "I think that's troubling to the international community, since the science is unequivocal…The other countries around the world, they kind of count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense, because they know that if the United States does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will."
"This is not just Mr. Trump," Obama continued. "There's not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it's serious."
Obama got that right. Trump has called climate change a "hoax." Ted Cruz recently called it a "pseudoscientific theory." Marco Rubio told ABC, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," adding that he rejects the idea that "somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate." Jeb Bush thinks it's "really arrogant" to say the science of climate change has been settled. Even John Kasich said in September: "I don't believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change." In December, Kasich criticized the very existence of the Paris climate conference, arguing that the world leaders in attendance should have been focusing on ISIS instead. And while Ben Carson seems to be a big fan of renewable energy, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused."
"The rest of the world looks at that," the president said, "and they say, 'How can that be?'" Still, he added, "I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president, and the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people." The voters, he said, will realize that "whoever's standing where I'm standing right now has the nuclear codes with them, and can order 21-year-olds into a firefight, and has to make sure that the banking system doesn't collapse."
"The American people are pretty sensible," Obama concluded, "and I think they'll make a sensible choice in the end."