Denying the science behind climate change may be in vogue among conservative Republicans this year, but it won't help the party attract valuable swing votes come the presidential election in November.
In President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday, applause was scattered on obviously partisan lines when he outlined his vision for divisive areas such as taxes, the income divide and the importance of investing in renewable energy resources. But a focus study of 50 swing voters that was conducted as Obama delivered his speech revealed strongly favorable reactions to those proposals, especially renewable energy, which received one of the most positive responses from the night.
The focus group was made up of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters, who were armed with dial meters to record their reactions during the speech, the Chicago Tribune reports. It was organized by the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenburg, who has reportedly conducted such studies for each State of the Union dating back to the Clinton administration.
While the group's most positive reaction came after Obama mentioned the killing of Osama bin Laden, his call for increased investment in renewable energy resources reportedly garnered nearly as strong of a reaction. Andrew Baumann, another of the pollsters involved in the study, told the newspaper that the passages where Obama discussed phasing out subsidies for oil companies and competing with China and Germany for new developments in wind and solar power did particularly well.
Granted, a focus group of 50 people can only tell pollsters so much. But the results support a number of other polls that indicate climate change is more accepted by Republicans and Independent voters than the GOP presidential nominees would have us believe.
For instance, in December the Pew Research Center reported 63 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence that earth's average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades, including 77 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and 43 percent of Republicans. Although the partisan divide is obvious from the numbers, Pew reports that the percentage of moderate or liberal Republicans who believe evidence supporting global exists jumped 22 percentage points between 2010 and 2011.
Although leading Republicans have been fixated on anti-science rhetoric this election cycle, they don't necessarily represent the view of many people in the party. Some conservatives who believe climate change is real, dubbed climate hawks by the media, have banded together to promote the science they say validates the phenomenon, as Mother Jones reported before the New Hampshire GOP primary.