Could Going Green Actually Help Mitt Romney?

| Thu Jul. 7, 2011 6:00 AM EDT

Mitt Romney's confession several weeks back that he believes humans contribute to global warming led some pundits to prophesize doom for his presidential prospects. For Rush Limbaugh, it was "bye bye nomination." Indeed, almost the entire Republican field seems to have concluded that the only viable political option is to sneer at climate change science, previous statements to the contrary be damned.

But according to a new study (PDF) out of Stanford, Romney might just be onto something. Not only do Americans overwhelmingly believe that addressing global warming should be a federal government priority, candidates risk alienating voters more when they deny climate change than when they take a green position on the issue.

For the study, researchers polled potential voters' likelihood of supporting a hypothetical Senate candidate based on a series of policy-related quotes attributed to him or her. In some calls, one of the quotes attributed to the "candidate" indicated a green position on climate change (belief in global warming, support for investments in renewable energy). In others, the candidate was attributed a non-green position ("climate science is junk science," "cap and trade is a job killer"). In still others, the topic was never mentioned.

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