Despite Administration’s Efforts, Voters Give Climate Change Low Priority in New Poll

By Patrick Goodenough | October 16, 2014 | 4:23 AM EDT

Secretary of State Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Despite the administration’s high-priority focus on climate change, the issue is at the bottom of a list of 13 concerns that are most pressing for registered U.S. voters in next month’s midterm election, according to a new Gallup poll.

Only 40 percent of respondents identified climate change as either “very important” or “extremely important” to their votes.

By contrast the list was topped by the economy (88 percent), followed by the availability of good jobs (86 percent), the way the federal government is working (81 percent), and Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria (78 percent).

Registered voters next viewed as very or extremely important to their vote the issues of equal pay for women (75 percent), the federal budget deficit (73 percent), foreign affairs (69 percent) and taxes (69 percent).

Further down in order of importance were immigration (65 percent), Obamacare (64 percent), income and wealth distribution in the U.S. (64 percent), abortion and access to contraception (50 percent) – and then climate change (40 percent).

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Spearheaded by longtime global warming campaigner Secretary of State John Kerry, the administration has given significant attention to climate change, an issue Kerry said recently may be “the most serious challenge we face on the planet.”

President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan in June 2013, introducing limits on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants and measures to raise energy efficiency standards.

Kerry says he unfailingly brings up the topic with foreign counterparts in meetings at home and around the world, and on the sidelines of high-level U.N. meetings in New York last month he hosted the first ever meeting on the subject at a foreign minister-level.

High on the administration’s agenda is a U.N. megaconference planned in Paris, France late next year, where leaders are meant to adopt a new global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Gallup poll suggests that the administration faces an uphill battle in getting Americans to ascribe the level of urgency to the issue that it does.

The poll also examined which party stands to benefit from the respective levels of importance voters give to the 13 issues, asking respondents whether they think Republicans or Democrats in Congress would do a better job of dealing with each.

On five of the six issues viewed as most important, Gallup found that Republicans hold leads over Democrats ranging in size from significant to small – the federal budget deficit (a 20-point GOP advantage), Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria (19 points), the economy (11 points), how the federal government is working (8 points), and the availability of good jobs (1 point).

Further down the list of issues of importance, Republicans held the advantage over Democrats in foreign affairs (13 points), taxes (10 points) and immigration (5 points).

The area of greatest strength for Democrats in Congress, the pollsters found, was that of equal pay for women (a 38-point advantage). Democrats also scored well on the two issues which respondents indicated were least important to their vote in November – abortion and access to contraception (13 points), and climate change (20 points).

On the remaining two issues, income and wealth distribution and Obamacare, Democrats held advantages of 2 and 10 points respectively.