They’re not all mad – well not quite anyway

It is easy to believe Americans are mad, well at least many of them, but occasionally there is evidence that rationality rules on some issues.

Okay not so much outside the east and west coasts when it comes to knowledge of the world or any sense of what works better in other countries than it does in the US. Discussing health care, for instance, is fraught and the horror which was evoked by everyone outside Brooklyn when Bernie Sanders advocated a health care system similar to the Australian, UK, German and other countries’ systems . History is also a bit of a knowledge exception as shown by the fact that you would never know from US commentary that the Bern’s idea is not new – it was first advocated by President Eisenhower who couldn’t understand why the US population as a whole couldn’t have a system like the military’s.

But even in areas such as climate change there is some hope of rationality as the latest evidence from the George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication suggests.

The Center undertakes a wide range of surveys on attitudes to climate change, some of the best ways to frame climate change communication and who are the best advocates (for example weather presenters and Pope Francis) for climate change messages.

It has now released two new surveys: one a national survey on attitudes to global warming and one on the attitudes of those who support particular Presidential candidates.

The first survey finds that “Increasing numbers of American voters think global warming is happening, and many say the issue will influence how they vote in November.”   “Voters who say global warming is happening – now at 73% – have increased 7% since Spring 2014. Nearly all liberal Democrats (95%) think global warming is happening, as do about three in four moderate/conservative Democrats (80%), Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points). While only about half of conservative Republicans (47%) think global warming is happening, they have experienced the largest upward shift of any group, an increase of 19 percentage points over the past two years,” the survey finds.

The recent moderation in climate change denial tactics may also reflect the need to respond to changing community attitudes as now more sophisticated denialists use phrases such as: “The science doesn’t appear settled to me but then I’m not a scientist.” The extent to which Australian conservatives take their talking points from energy companies (well not renewable energy ones anyway) and Republicans was illustrated by Australian Attorney-General George Brandis using exactly the same phrases.

The Center’s findings also show that: “American voters are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming.”

The voters are also less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes taking action to reduce global warming with “Two thirds of Democrats (67%; 78% of liberals and 55% of moderates/ conservatives) and half of Independents (49%) say global warming will be among several important issues they consider when determining their vote for president this year.”

Moreover, “Majorities of American voters support policies to reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, and to promote clean energy. For example, more than two in three voters support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes such as income taxes by an equal amount.”

Now that would be good news for both the US and Australian deficit situations – almost as good as not buying F35 planes and, in the Australian case, just about any other military equipment which ends up not working and costing far more than budgeted.

The second report, Global Warming and the Presidential Election, finds that “with the exception of Ted Cruz voters, most supporters of the Democratic and Republican candidates think global warming is happening (Sanders: 93%, Clinton: 92%, Kasich: 71%, Trump: 56%). By contrast, fewer than half of Ted Cruz supporters-38%-think global warming is happening.” The survey was conducted before the recent Cruz, Kasich campaign suspensions.

What that means for Trump’s vote is moot. This could be another reason some Republican voters don’t turn up at the polling booth although we shouldn’t underestimate the motivations of those who hate Hillary. But just imagine for a moment if she was black or Hispanic as well as female. Then some Republicans would silently  believe  her only appropriate White House role would be as help. Of course they might even oppose her getting that job. The same people probably also winced, for the wrong reasons, at the TV biopic of John and Abigail Adams when they are depicted arriving at a half-finished White House to find it is being constructed by slave labour. Which reminds the blog – Susan Sarandon is campaigning for Bernie but who is Laura Linney, incomparable as Abigail, supporting?

The survey results in other policy areas also remind us of the extent to which US Republican attitudes reflect the divide in Australian politics between the conservatives and others such as the ALP and the Greens and, indeed, the former views of our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. For instance the survey shows candidate supporters opinions on key climate change issues as:

Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power: (Sanders: 93%, Clinton: 91%, Kasich: 86%, Trump: 76%, Cruz: 64%).

“Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (Sanders: 94%, Clinton: 92%, Kasich: 80%, Trump: 70%, Cruz: 59%)” and “At least half the supporters of all candidates except Cruz would also support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant”

“Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes such as income taxes by an equal amount (Sanders: 88%, Clinton: 85%, Kasich: 53%, Trump: 51%, Cruz: 27%).”

So if many of them are mad what, in comparison with Australian conservative attitudes on the same subjects, does that make many of us?