Acknowledging global warming still a partisan issue, polling finds

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A bicyclist makes his way west on Market Street, protected from the heavy wet snow of the latest nor'easter by an oversized umbrella. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A bicyclist makes his way west on Market Street, protected from the heavy wet snow of the latest nor'easter by an oversized umbrella. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in U.S. opinion.

The federal budget proposal announced this week could be a sign that Congress is actually getting something done, but the public’s approval of Congress still has a long way to go. It’s been at 15 percent for two months … not the lowest — that was 9 percent in November 2013 — but still dismal.

The new spending bill increases the federal deficit, and the public has mixed reactions to that. Few mention the deficit as the top problem facing the country, but many worry about “federal spending and the budget deficit,” placing it near the top of the list of worries. The deficit is tied with crime and violence and the availability of guns for second place on the “worry list.”

Health care tops the list for the fourth straight year — and the 10th year overall. It’s the only problem a majority says it’s worried about a great deal in every poll going back to 2001. Very few Americans now mention jobs as the most important problem facing the country.

The four nor’easters that hit our area within a month have been linked to changes brought about by climate change. New data show that climate change still does not rank at all near the top of Americans’ environmental concerns – there is much more concern about polluted drinking water.

Just under 70 percent of Republicans say news about global warming has been exaggerated, while about a third of Americans – mostly Republicans – say news about the seriousness of global warming has been generally exaggerated. Just over 40 percent believe it has been underestimated..

It’s a partisan divide; for example, 44 percent of Republicans say most scientists are unsure whether global warming is occurring, while 42 percent say scientists are sure. Among Democrats, 86 percent say scientists are sure that global warming is occurring.

Listen to the audio above for the full conversation.

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