Is the latest Gallup poll good news for negotiators at the Copenhagen climate summit? It found that 55 percent of Americans support signing a binding treaty that would commit the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Thirty-eight percent give it a thumb's down. The 17-point difference is a decent-sized margin, though not a slam-dunk. But the poll does give politicians reason to think twice before backing binding cuts.
Almost two-thirds of Americans do not believe that laws designed to reduce global warming will help the economy, and 42 percent think such laws will harm the US economy. And when it comes to priorities, Americans want a focus on jobs. Asked which should be a higher priority for President Barack Obama—improving the economy or reducing emissions—85 percent predictably picked the economy. Advocates of climate change action maintain that emissions cuts can boost the economy. But that message may not yet have been absorbed by the American public.
President Obama has a fine line to walk in Copenhagen—living up to his long-standing commitment to be a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while staying mindful of the pitchforks that could be raised at home if he is perceived to be spending too much time on the issue, or selling the U.S. economy down the nearby Gulf Stream.
The climate change summit is hanging from that tight wire.
You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter.