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On Trump and climate, America is split in two by these demographics

Posted on 14 November 2016 by dana1981

The world is shocked that America elected Donald Trump as its 45th president. Exit polls show that the country is sharply divided on Trump along the same lines as its sharp divisions on climate change.

Political ideology was the single strongest determining factor in the election. 90% of Republicans voted for Trump, while 89% of Democrats voted for Clinton. Ideology is also the primary factor associated with acceptance or denial of human-caused global warming, as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained eloquently in this video:

Race was the second-clearest determining factor in the presidential election. Trump won white voters by 21 percentage points; Clinton won minorities by 53 points. Minorities are also far more likely to accept and be concerned about climate change than white Americans. As Samantha Bee explained, white Americans bear responsibility for electing Donald Trump:

The urban/rural divide was the third-strongest determining factor in the presidential election. Clinton won urban voters by 24 points; Trump won rural voters by 28 points. In many cases, cities are leading the way in taking action to curb global warming.

Fourth, voters younger than 45 went for Clinton by a 12-point margin, while older voters preferred Trump by 11 points. Voters under the age of 30 voted for Clinton by an 18-point margin. Similarly, young Americans are far more likely to be concerned about climate change than older Americans.

Finally, there is a gender gap, though it’s smaller than many expected. Despite accusations from 15 women that Trump groped, kissed, or assaulted them, and a recording of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, he only lost the female vote by 12 points – the same margin by which he won the male vote, and approximately the same margin by which Obama beat Romney and McCain among women. White women even favored Trump by 10 points, and white women without a college degree by an astonishing 28 points.

Basically, Trump’s misogyny didn’t dissuade women from voting for him. They normally favor Democratic presidential candidates by a margin of about 20 points more than men. That’s also the margin by which American women are more concerned about climate change than men.

How did America elect Barack Obama and then Donald Trump?

It’s important to remember that as with Al Gore in 2000, more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than her victorious opponent. Al Gore received about a half million more votes than George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton will likely receive over a million more votes than Donald Trump. Bush and Trump were elected because of the antiquated electoral college system.

Nevertheless, the popular vote was closer in 2016 than in 2012 or 2008. Republican voters were willing to forgive Trump’s many disqualifying flaws. They didn’t care about his constant lies. Eighty-one per cent of evangelicals voted for Trump despite his long history of immoral behavior. But many voters weren’t willing to overlook the media-generatedRussian hacker-assistedFBI director-amplifiedfaux scandal of Clinton’s emails.

And much of Clinton’s support was concentrated in areas like my home state of California, where she won by over 28 points, while enough rural white Trump voters were distributed across swing states to give him narrow victories and winner-take-all electoral college votes. Trump won four states with a total of 75 electoral college votes (Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan) by margins of 1.3 points or less.

It’s the same reason why Republicans control a large majority in the House of Representatives despite receiving more than a million fewer total votes than their Democratic opponents: rural, white, Republican voters are more widely geographically distributed than urban Democratic voters. America has become a minority-ruled country, that minority being rural white Republicans.

Ultimately, explaining the election result is simple – Republicans voted for Trump and Democrats voted for Clinton. Clinton received more votes, but Trump won most of the states in which the vote was close. Trump won in areas with less educated, older, whiter populations with fewer immigrants. In these isolated, insulated regions, people fear their way of life is vanishing, and they’re largely right.

The US isn’t a coal burning, manufacturing country anymore. Trump promised to change that, but he can’t, and his policies will hurt his voters. America is changing and it’s not the fault of Democrats or immigrants, but Trump made them scapegoats and made empty promises to turn back the clock. Democrats need to find a way to connect with and help these groups who feel the government isn’t on their side.

What does this mean for the Earth’s climate?

As John Abraham wrote last week, now that the Republican Party controls the US government, they own climate change.

For years, America was the country most to blame for obstructing international efforts to curb climate change. Our senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. President George W Bush refused to take any action to cut US carbon pollution. Senate Republicans blocked the cap and trade legislation passed by the House of Representatives in 2009.

Finally, over the past four years, the US has taken action and shown leadership in tackling climate change. As a result, humans had a slim chance of keeping global warming below the dangerous 2C limit.

Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to reverse that progress. The energy page of Trump’s official presidential transition website focuses on extracting and burning lots and lots of fossil fuels and scrapping Obama’s climate plans:

We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. We will … scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan

Trump has already appointed a climate denier who wants to dismantle the Clean Power Plan to lead the EPA’s transition. If the Republican party continues on this path, the costs and suffering from intensified heat waves, floods, droughts, and hurricanes, sea levels engulfing coastal cities, etc – it will be on the GOP.

What do we do now?

In the meantime, we must continue trying to break through Republican politicians’ science denial. Many Republican policymakers are rumored to accept human-caused global warming in private; we have to change the political climate so that this isn’t a disqualifying position for a party leader to take in public.

There is no reason that Republicans have to deny climate science and reality; in fact, they’re the only major political party in the world that does, and most of their voters support climate action. We can donate to and volunteer to help bipartisan climate groups like Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which is working with policymakers from both parties to build the political will to solve the climate problem. These groups are now more important than ever.

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Comments 1 to 15:

  1. I hope you will excuse me as I have already posted this comment on a previous thread, but it is still entirely relevent to this one.

    We outside America need to act now, before Trump opens a single coal mine, drills a single well. or withdraws a single cent from renewable development projects. It doesn't matter that the economics lean towards renewables and away from fossil fules. Trump & co are tools of the fossil fuel indistry and that it what they will pronote, regardless

    350 degrees, Greenpeace and FOE have their hands tied because they operate inside the US and so it would be pretty hard for them to call for a boycott of US corporations; therefore there needs to be a new campaign group set up in countries outside the US promoting such a boycott. It doesn't have to be all encompassing; just a handful of the big names - Coca Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds etc, will do to start with.

    But it needs to be done quickly, ideally before Trump has even taken office. We need to deliver the first blow, or at least make the threat clear to Trump and the Republicans. To wait until Trump takes charge is to give the advantage, and we can’t afford to allow that. We need him on the defensive and on the back foot.

    The sooner people realise that there is absolutely zero chance of the UN or our governments doing anything that will get Trump and co to change course, the quicker we can get together and do something ourselves. The wait and see approach is the dumb ass approach and we’ll take a severe beating.

    The only way Trump and the Republicans can be brought to see reason is to hit them in their wallet; our governments won’t do it; we can. We need to be the ones shaping events and controlling them, not the other way around. Action needs to be swift and uncompromising.

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  2. After having just listened to William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute on the UK's Channel Four news emphasising the non-binding and voluntary nature of the Paris agreement and the ease with which the US can take a position of non-compliance, I would just like to add a few more words.

    What Trump and co need is something radical, bold and unexpected coming at them from out of leftfield. They will have anticipated and prepared for the international criticism and the battle with internal climate activists. I think it highly unlikely they are prepared for people from countries all over the world taking it upon themselves to boycott some of the big US corporations - it may just get them on the ropes and could be a game changer.

    Let's face it, those of us who worry and care about climate change tend to be wish washy liberal types and moderate conservatives who don't like conflict, much prefer to work in co-operation with others, look to find common ground, want to be reasonable and play fair. Anyone thinking that approach is going to work with Trump and co needs to get off their unicorn.

    The gloves need to come off and the fight taken to Trump. Trump didn’t realise his revolution through nice words and fair play, and any counter revolution won't achieve results by those methods. There will be those who will claim that it's unfair to target the US; after all, it's not as if other countries are doing what needs to be done on climate. Tough! It's fair enough! The US is about to become climate enemy number one and they need to be dealt with before the contagion spreads.

    A boycott can also serve as a warning to other countries who decide their short term interests are more important than the long term survival of the planet.

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  3. Thanks for some interesting data and a good analysis, and you are broadly correct. There are clearly huge partisan divisions that are becoming worse and worse. The days of sensible consensus seem to be evaporating.

    However you miss a point that the immediate cause of Clinton’s loss was James Comey, head of the FBI. Two weeks ago Clinton was ahead by 8 points and would almost certainly have also won the electoral college. After Comey’s dropping the email bomb in the final week her vote lead dropped to about 2% in the polls. (In reality the polls were also wrong and she was only ahead 1%). Yes obviously several factors contributed to Clintons loss, and she was not a great canditate, but Comey has to be the factor that clinched things. Personally I question his motives for acting the way he did, and consider them very dubious, and they should be questioned. The trouble is the Liberals (and I lean liberal) are too nice and won’t want to rock the boat.

    I agree with the comment posted above. The world needs to signal its displeasure about Trump being elected and do so forcefully and especially so over climate change. The days of playing nice should be over. These Trump supporters don’t play nice so why should anyone else? The only thing that seems to get through to them is shouting and some harsh financial consequences.

    Yes blue collar workers have been hurt and free trade plays some part, but mostly its automation and robotics. Trump can’t change these things. Tariffs will do more harm than good.

    The only real way to help low income, low skilled people is some government financial help with retraining allowances and relocation allowances, etc. However this requires taxation and state help, so won’t be on the republican agenda.

    It’s a huge mess and blue collar workers cant seem to work out its more the Republican Party ideology thats hurt them for decades. They consistently vote against their own financial self interest. But you can only lead a horse to water and I’m beyond caring on that issue.

    However climate change is a global concern, and America is a big player and its ideological world view can be influential on other countries. This really therefore concerns everyone.

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  4. I wonder why detailed exit polls pointed by Dana at the very top, does not specifically include the acceptance of climate science vs voting data. There are dozen (if not hundreds I'm bored to read) miniscule questions that will annoy any reader as they did myself, but the central question of climate mitigation, our central concern herein, where the new president will do most damage, is absent. That proves this poll, like the whole coverage of this election, is only about sensationalism, a reality show, or even better said a farcical comedy, rather than a serious contest of responsibility that POTUS office requires. Climate change mitigation is a number one challenge of that office but has been totally forgotten in the campaign and not even mentioned in this post-campain poll. Absurd.

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  5. chriskoz @4, based on this poll, it is likely that a majority of Trump voters accept the reality of AGW, but that those that do are on average less worried about it than Clinton voters (or than is consistent with the evidence).  I base that claim on the party affiliation results along with the fact that around 91% of Democrats voted for Clinton, 93% of Republicans voted for Trump, and 53% of independents voted for Trump (based on exit polls here, excluding "other/no answer").

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  6. Trump fell slightly short of winning the popular vote but the election result itself still shows that 'climate change' as an issue is less important than other social and economic issues of today, as far as Americans are concerned.  

    My gut feeling is that Trump will be a 4 year President and will have little if any effect on global climate hange mitigation efforts. 

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  7. The urban/rural divide was the third-strongest determining factor in the presidential election. Clinton won urban voters by 24 points; Trump won rural voters by 28 points. In many cases, cities are leading the way in taking action to curb global warming.

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  8. "Perhaps a little less derision and outright snobbery..."

    Quite so. Artisinal, focus group tested, artfully concealed derision and snobbery will be right up.  Would you like seltzer with that? 

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  9. Thank you for so effectively but, I suspect, unintentionally, reinforcing my point.

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  10. I tried to warn people that Clinton was trying to buck a strong hitorical trend and her chances were slim.

    America very rarely elects two different Democratic presidents back-to-back. Exceptions since WWII are when Johnson followed JFK, but JFK had died in office so LBJ was able to run as an incumbent. Incumbents have an significant advantage in our elections; that's why we have the 22nd Amendment, and why Senators and Congressmen with low approval ratings stay in office for decades. The same thing happened when Truman followed FDR, he was able to run as an incumbent after FDR died in office.

    To find an example that didn't involve the advantage of incumbency you have to go back over 150 years, to James Buchanon followed Franklin Pierce in the election of 1856. So this is a very strong historical trend that is extremely hard to break. Still, I thought Clinton had a chance because Trump was so bad.

    What does this have to do with Climate Change, and am I about to get flagged for being off-topic? The point is, we can't wait for the perfect president, the perfect congress, or the perfect political climate. It is up to us, the people, to mobilize and move forward on fighting climate change. Where the people lead, the politicians will follow. (or "Lead from the rear" as someone put it.)

    One small consulation, Trump should be the absolute last of the climate denier presidents. Sea level rise is/has accelerated and in another 8 years, (maybe only four, but don't count on it), millions of people who don't now beleive in climate change will be changing their minds. Yes, we will be in very bad shape by then, really we already are just that many people can't/won't see it.

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  11. Trump won in areas with less educated, older, whiter populations with fewer immigrants.

    It was exactly the same with Brexit in the UK.  No wonder he's such buddies with Nigel Farage.  

    Interestingly UKIP, the neo-fascist party he used to head, obtained only one Member of Parliament (one MP is allocated per seat or region) out of 650 in the last general election despite receiving 13% of the vote (he has never won a seat).  This is due to their votes being diluted across many regions and MPs being elected by a first past the post voting system in each region. The Greens only have one MP for the same reason.

    In contrast, the Scottish Nationalists obtained 56 seats with only 8.6% of the popular vote, because their vote is concentrated enough in Scotland to overcome the other parties contesting those seats.

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  12. Enough, it's time to do something!Temperatures in Arctic above 80N

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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Adjusted image size. Please keep image limited to 500px.

  13. The chart @12 needs some explanation.  As in, what is it?

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  14. I am pretty sure it is Arctic temperatures north of 80N. See here.

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  15. scaddenp@14,

    Indeed, note how the tip of the average green curve just "touches" the freezing blue line in summertime, which indicates how sensitive this region is changes in ice accumulation/melting in response to even small warming that shifts the green curve up and down. The simulation of such shifts (or rather changes in green curve in response to Milankovic forcings) can lead the explanation of iceage cycles. But with that model in mind, the departure of red line from green line in wintertime does not make any difference to arctic ice stability as long as it stays below freezing. The relevant summertime part or red curve follows green curve closely. So I don't understand what's a big buzz in this mistery, policy violating bozzza@112 post.

    And above all, I don't understande how this graph is relevant to the topic at hand about demographic of climate science acceptance in America.

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