POLITICS
06/26/2013 07:27 am ET Updated Aug 15, 2014

Poll: Americans Split On Obama's Handling Of Climate Change

As President Barack Obama publicly outlined his second-term plans to curb climate change Tuesday, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that Americans are split on what causes climate change, and they are more likely to oppose than support Obama's approach to halting it.

Thirty-three percent of Americans approve of how the president is handling the issue, while 40 percent disapprove, according to the online poll, which was taken before Obama's wide-ranging speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday. The remaining 26 percent weren't sure.

Democrats were the most likely to support Obama, with 63 percent saying they strongly or somewhat approved of his work on the issue, compared with 27 percent of independents and just 6 percent of Republicans.

Americans were split in their views of what causes climate change: 44 percent said it was mostly due to human activity such as burning fossil fuels, while 41 percent attributed it to natural patterns in the Earth's environment.

Those opinions were again divided strongly along party lines. More than two-thirds of Democrats said climate change was primarily man-made, with just 21 percent saying it was natural. Among Republicans, those numbers were almost reversed, with 20 percent attributing climate change to human activity, and 70 percent to natural environmental patterns. Independents were about evenly split between the two positions.

People who had completed higher education were also more likely to say climate change is largely due to human activity. A majority of those with college degrees and graduate degrees (50 percent and 57 percent, respectively) agreed with that statement, compared with 40 percent of those with only a high school degree.

Regardless of their opinions on the cause of climate change, a near-majority -- 47 percent -- favor new federal policies to combat it. Thirty-two percent oppose such policies.

President Obama said Tuesday that the State Department shouldn't approve construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline unless officials could determine that it wouldn't lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions. He also laid out a strategy for cutting carbon pollution and working internationally to reduce emissions, and for preparing for the effects of climate change.

Polling from from Pew Research found that two-thirds of Americans favor building the pipeline, and that while 69 percent say there's solid evidence of global warming, just 42 percent believe that it's mostly due to human activity.

Pew also found climate change is far from a top concern for most Americans: It ranked last in a list of priorities, and only a third say it's a very serious problem.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted June 19-20 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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