The Generation Gap On Global Warming

Young Republicans

It’s significant:

The key question, though, is whether even within the GOP, there is a split between younger and older voters on climate change. Sure enough, our poll suggests that this is the case … What this shows is that age matters above and beyond partisanship in how people think about the climate issue.

Roughly six in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents under age 50 think the government should limit greenhouse gases even if it causes a $20 increase in their monthly bill; fewer than half of Republicans ages 50-64 or over 65 support this policy. Support is only slightly higher among Democrats under age 50 than those over age 65, which is statistically insignificant. Support does rise to 78 percent among Democrats under age 40.

Despite both issues having major generational divides, Loomis is skeptical that climate change will follow the path of marriage equality:

Gay marriage has a simple solution: making gay marriage legal. But climate change is far more complicated with no clear situation. Polling showing young people would pay $20 extra a month in home heating have some value but let’s be clear, that ain’t solving climate change. So what happens then? And the mechanism for change is much murkier. Ballot measures mean people can vote to legalize gay marriage. Lawsuits can force states to do the same. There isn’t really a similar mechanism for climate change.