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31% Agree Global Warming Is ‘Perhaps Most Fearsome Weapon of Mass Destruction’

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Most voters don’t agree with Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement earlier this week that global warming is now "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Despite Kerry’s dismissal of those who question global warming as belonging to the Flat Earth Society, voters are almost evenly divided when asked if global warming is proven scientific fact.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with Kerry’s assessment of global warming. Fifty-four percent (54%) disagree and say global warming is not “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Forty-seven percent (47%) think global warming is a proven scientific fact, but nearly as many (45%) say there is still credible disagreement within the scientific community.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters agree with the urgency Kerry expressed in his speech in Indonesia and say the world is headed toward an irreversible catastrophe if we fail to deal with global warming in the near future. Forty-two percent (42%) disagree with this apocalyptic forecast, while 22% are not sure.

Like most major issues these days, however, there are sharp partisan differences of opinion. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Democrats think global warming is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”; 80% of Republicans and 61% of voters not affiliated with either major party disagree.

Seventy percent (70%) of Democratic voters believe global warming is proven scientific fact, but 74% of Republicans think there is still credible disagreement within the scientific community. Among unaffiliated voters, 46% say fact, 49% say disagreement.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters in Kerry’s party think the world is headed toward an irreversible catastrophe if we fail to deal with global warming in the near future. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of GOP voters and a plurality (48%) of unaffiliateds disagree.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 18-19, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters view global warming as a somewhat serious problem, with 30% who consider it a Very Serious one.  Yet while most voters have expressed concern about global warming for years, just 41% are willing to pay more in taxes or in utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming. That includes 23% who are willing to pay no more than $100 extra a year.

Forty-three percent (43%) of voters now have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Kerry, while 45% view him unfavorably. This includes 11% with a Very Favorable view and 25% with a Very Unfavorable one.

This marks only a slight shift from late December 2012 after President Obama nominated him to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State when Kerry earned favorables of 47% and unfavorable of 42%. Fifty-one percent (51%) had a favorable opinion of the Massachusetts senator in October 2004.  Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election to GOP incumbent George W. Bush by a 50.7% to 48.3% margin.

Ten percent (10%) of voters think Kerry is a better secretary of State than Clinton, while 19% say he is worse. Sixty-one percent (61%) rate the two about the same.

Democrats believe more strongly than Republicans and unaffiliated voters that Kerry is a worse secretary of State than Clinton, but roughly 60% of all three groups view the two as about the same.

Still, 68% of Democrats view Kerry favorably. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Republicans and 52% of unaffiliated voters have an unfavorable opinion of him.

Sixty percent (60%) of all voters believe economic threats are a bigger threat to the United States than terrorist attacks or military attacks from other nations.

Forty-six percent (46%) think the circumstances surrounding the September 2012 murder of the U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. Embassy employees in Libya will hurt Clinton if she runs for president two years from now.

Foreign policy was in the spotlight for much of last year.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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