Survey: Democrats Fear Climate Change More Than Islamic Terrorists

Penny Starr | September 23, 2014 | 9:48am EDT
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Geese fly past a smokestack at the Jeffery Energy Center coal power plant near Emmitt, Kan. (AP File Photo)

( – A recent survey found that Democrats believe the threat posed by climate change is greater than the threat posed by either al Qaeda or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL).

The Pew Research Center/USA Today survey, conducted between Aug. 20 and 24, shows that 68 percent of Democrats said global climate change is a “major threat” to the U.S. while 67 percent chose al Qaida and 65 percent chose ISIS as a major threat to the country.

On the Republican side, 80 percent said al Qaida was the major threat and 78 percent chose ISIS,  while only 25 percent said global climate change was a major threat.

Among Independents, 69 percent chose al Qaeda as the major threat, 63 percent chose ISIS, and only 44 percent said climate change.

Among Democrats, global climate change topped the list of greatest threats to the U.S.  But among Republicans and Independents, it placed last on a list of nine "major threats."

The top major concerns for Democrats were global climate change (68%), followed by extremist groups like al Qaeda (67%), ISIS (65%), North Korea's nuclear program (58%), Iran's nuclear program (56%) the rapid spread of infectious diseases from country to country (55%), growing tensions between Russia and its neighbors (54%), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (44%), and China's emergence as a world power (43%).

Among Republicans, the greatest percentage chose al Qaeda as the top threat (80%), followed by ISIS (78%), Iran's nuclear program (74%), North Korea's nuclear program (63%), China's emergence as a world power (60%) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (60%), Russian tensions (54%), rapid spread of infectious disease (49%) and climate change (25%).

And, in descending order, Independents (69%) chose al Qaeda as a "major threat to the U.S.," followed by ISIS (63%), Iran's nuclear program (54%) North Korea's nuclear program (54%), growing tensions between Russia and its neighbors (52%), spread of infectious disease (50%), China's emergence (46%), Israeli-Palestinian conflict (45%), and global climate change (44%).

The survey is based on telephone interviews conducted August 20-24, 2014 among a national sample of 1,501 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (600 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 901 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 487 who had no landline telephone).

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly, with pollsters asking for the youngest adult male or female who is now at home. Interviews in the cell phone sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older. For detailed information about the survey methodology, go here.
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