Is the US Republican Party alienating its supporters by questioning climate change? Just 35 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support the party's stance on the issue, according to a new poll.
"We were quite surprised by the low level of support," says Ed Maibach of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, a member of the polling team.
During the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, candidates competed to demonstrate their climate-sceptic credentials.
But in the run up to Barack Obama's electoral victory, a poll from Maibach's group and researchers at Yale University suggested that the Republican stance on climate change was turning off undecided voters.
Now, the researchers have polled 726 voters who identified themselves as Republicans or independents leaning towards the party.
Only 52 per cent thought climate change was happening, but 62 per cent said the US should take steps to address the issue ? suggesting that even some who are unsure about climate change still think it's worth responding to the potential threat. Seventy-seven per cent thought the US should use more renewable energy.
What's unclear is whether candidates who embrace climate science can win the support of the narrower and more ideologically committed group of voters who vote in Republican primaries. If not, the party may be painting itself into a corner by selecting candidates whose views on the issue are out of line even with mainstream conservative opinion in the US.
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