NEW POLLS: Ahead Of Debates, Voters Make The Connection Between Climate And Extreme Weather Events, Demand Action From The Candidates

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of the first presidential debate on Tuesday, a raft of new polls show that voters understand that the climate crisis is here, is fueling deadly wildfires and other extreme weather events, and must be addressed by candidates.

“Voters understand extreme weather events like wildfires and supercharged hurricanes are being fueled by climate change, and they are deeply concerned about it,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “The climate crisis can’t be ignored any longer. Chris Wallace must ask each candidate about what steps they will take to address climate change. Voters are demanding bold action on climate, and the candidates must be pressed to explain their plans to tackle a crisis that is already impacting the daily lives of people across the country.” 

A Navigator Research national survey released today found that:

  • 84% of voters, including 73% of Republicans, are worried about “extreme disasters across the country like wildfires and hurricanes.”
  • Two-thirds of voters, including nearly half of Republicans, say that climate change has contributed to the recent wildfires.
  • Voters are also sharply critical of President Trump’s handling of the wildfires:
    • Only 31% say the Trump administration is doing enough to respond to the wildfires and help communities affected by them.
    • 77% agreed with this statement: “While wildfires were destroying millions of acres across the West and taking American lives, Donald Trump remained silent. A president must be a leader for every state in the country, not just those that voted for them.”

A Climate Power 2020 battleground state survey conducted by Public Policy Polling and released earlier this week found that:

  • 66% say that addressing climate change must be a priority for the next president, including 39% who say it must be a top priority. Among independent voters, 77% say addressing climate change must be a priority, including 42% who say it must be a top priority.
  • By a margin of 55% to 38%, voters trust Biden over Trump when it comes to addressing climate change.
  • By a margin of 55% to 28%, voters prefer Biden’s statement (“The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon. It’s science.”) to Trump’s recent statements (“It will start getting cooler” and that “I don’t think science knows, actually.”).
  • 62% believe (including 51% who strongly believe) that climate change is making extreme weather events, such as Western wildfires and Atlantic hurricanes, worse.
  • 72% of voters responded that they are concerned about recent extreme weather events, with almost half of respondents saying they are “very concerned.”

A Quinnipiac University national survey released Wednesday found that:

  • By a 21-point margin (58% to 37%), likely voters say that climate change is a factor in making the wildfires on the West Coast more severe. 

Ahead of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, 71 Members of the House of Representatives, 37 Senators, and 45 progressive and climate organizations called on the Commission on Presidential Debates or the debate moderators themselves to make the climate crisis a central focus of the debates. In 2016, debate moderators did not ask a single question about climate change.