CNN Poll: Do Americans agree with Obama on climate change and immigration?
January 22nd, 2013
05:00 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: Do Americans agree with Obama on climate change and immigration?

Washington (CNN) - Saying "we will respond to the threat of climate change," President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address to put the divisive issue back on the front burner. But according to a new national survey, Americans are divided over whether global warming is a man made phenomenon.

The president also used his speech to highlight the controversial issue of illegal immigration, and a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday also indicates that a bare majority of the public says the main focus of the federal government should be on developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents, rather than deporting them.

The president warned in his Monday address that failure to respond to climate change "would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."

According to the poll, which was conducted last week, 49% agree with the White House that global warming is a proven fact and is due to emissions from cars, power plants and factories. That's twice as high as the number who say that global warming has not been proven, as well as the 24% who say that it is a proven fact but is not due to manmade sources. But the 49% figure is down seven points from 2007.

There's an expected partisan divide on the question, with two-thirds of Democrats saying global warming is man made. That number drops to 48% among independent voters and is at 28% among Republicans.

The president tried and failed in his first term to get a climate change bill through Congress. The president also came up empty during his first four years in the White House in trying to pass comprehensive illegal immigration reform though Congress.

But Obama has put the issue on his to-do list this year, and in his inaugural address he said "our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."

By a 53%-43% margin, people questioned in the poll say that main focus of the federal government should be on developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents, rather than deporting them.

That's a switch from 2011, when by a 55%-42% margin, Americans said that deporting undocumented residents and stopping more of them from coming into the country should be the main focus of U.S policy on illegal immigration.

As expected, the poll indicates a partisan divide on the issue, as well as a generational divide, with younger people saying allowing undocumented immigrants to become legal should be the top priority, and a slight plurality of those 50 and older saying the emphasis should be on deportation and border security.

One of the president's biggest domestic accomplishments in his first term was passing a sweeping health care bill through Congress in 2010. In his inauguration address, Obama acknowledged that there is still much work ahead on this issue, saying "we must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care."

According to the poll, 51% favor all or most of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the official name of what many people refer to as "Obamacare," with 44% opposed to all or most of the provisions in the law.

"That's a switch from 2011, when a CNN poll indicated that a majority opposed all or most of the provisions in the health care bill," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Minutes after his inauguration speech, the president signed documents making official his nominations for some top Cabinet posts, including former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. The Nebraska Republican's nomination has been met with reservations, and even outright opposition, by some senators of both parties, who point to past positions he has taken on Israel, Iran and the war in Iraq.

According to the poll, 48% think the Senate should confirm Hagel.

"That's twice as high as the number who oppose his confirmation, but with three in ten uncertain of how they feel about the issue, the White House might breathe a little easier if support for Hagel were just over 50% rather than just under that mark," adds Holland.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on Jan. 14-15, with 814 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. much thunder.little rain

    americans want a 60 / 40 leader.... someone in the center on views... the far left or far right....not so good..

    January 22, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Name lynn

    It dont matter if the people agree with obama or not agree, as long as its the right choice for the people an the fiscal budget. Obama cant please everyone obama is doing a good job. Obama is during better job than some of those white presidents before him..

    January 22, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Enough is Enough

    If all Americans knew that illegals cost taxpayers over 110 billion a year they would be in favor of deportation. Watch the costs skyrocket if Obama makes them citizens and you pay for their Obamacare benefits.

    January 22, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Washington Is Out Of Touch with reality

    Step One – Take away all your Guns
    Step Two – Destroy America
    Step Three – Declare myself King and Dictator
    Step Four – Tax everyone to death
    Step Five – Go play Golf

    January 22, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    kevin wrote:

    hey melissa obama called for unity yesterday but you say ignore these people. 8 million less people looking for a job then four yrs. ago. payroll tax went up for middle-class in the tone of 1,000 to 1,500 $. oh but wait you dont care because obama tax the rich too that makes you feal better. the real person he wants you and you are to stupid to see it .
    -----------------------
    Too stupid to see it? Middle class Americans are paying lower federal taxes on the second inaugural day than they were on the first. I feel better now.

    January 22, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Wilson

    Climate change is real. The climate is changing constantly. These things come in cycles, ice ages etc. according to climatologists that are not paid schills for the Al Gore agenda. I got to work with scientists in Thule Greenland that pulled ice cores. They said the cores show that the atmospheric conditions right now are virtually identical to the atmospheric conditions 10,000 years ago.

    January 22, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Matt

    I'm shocked that Obama would continue to put special interest groups over the good of the country. How about Obama passes a budget and gets our out of control spending in check before he looks out for the special interests. Sorry couldn't even type that without laughing at the unlikelihood of that actually happening.

    January 22, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    It's always cool when a current President of the United States (and I'm paraphrasing) steps up to the inaugural podium and suggests that if we as a Nation are to continue to coin ourselves "one nation under God" it's about time we became that one nation under God ... and start walking the walk.

    Simply talking the talk doesn't seem to be working out too well.

    January 22, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Name....

    Im saying Obama is more of a smh president nor good nor bad but a little more lenient to the bad not a fan.

    January 22, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Enough is Enough

    If all Americans knew that illegals cost taxpayers over 110 billion a year they would be in favor of deportation.
    ------------------–
    Would you mind explaining the logistics of deporting them? How do you identify their country of origin? Many illegals coming from Central and South America were not born in areas where birth records are kept, which means their true country of origin has no record of them.

    The cost of it would far exceed the figure that you cite. Wouldn't you have to incacerate all of them prior to deportation? How do get foreign countries to accept tens of thousands of people? What happens when foreign countries say, "No."?

    January 22, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. ohio

    to the commentor who says the average tea partier is more informed/educated than a regular citizen:
    where i live that is a joke. Cinci. has, in the last few years, made a shift toward more progressive thinkers.
    Sure we have our conservatives and our tea partiers but this is not the expected win for republicans anymore.
    Sherrod Brown won quite a few counties here. Ohio on the whole voted by more than a slim margin for dems.
    Cinci is full of educated informed people. As well as some counties that are not.
    It's not hard to tell where the tea partiers usually come from. And their numbers continue to get smaller.I respect your
    opinion but don't completely agree with it–so i am just commenting on ohio and texas must be different.

    January 22, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Canuck

    @Ancient Texan
    " the average Tea Party member is much better educated than the average American citizen."

    evidence please.....

    January 22, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Matt wrote:

    I'm shocked that Obama would continue to put special interest groups over the good of the country. How about Obama passes a budget and gets our out of control spending in check before he looks out for the special interests. Sorry couldn't even type that without laughing at the unlikelihood of that actually happening.
    ---------------------
    That's a new one. The middle class is now a special interest group. We've always known that students, the poor, the sick, minorities and women were special interest groups. But now, the entire middle class is a special ilnterest group.

    January 22, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Do Americans agree with Obama on climate change and immigration?

    NO.

    GREEN TAX HOAX

    1970's – NEW ICE AGE

    1980's – GLOBAL WARMING

    1990's – CLIMATE CHANGE

    2013 – STILL JUST A BIG FAT TAX HOAX

    FORWARD

    January 22, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Hillcrester

    It is encouraging that sentiment is starting to move in the progressive direction regarding immigration and health care reform, assuming that the changes reflected in this survey reflect a trend. However, it is no surprise that we need to import scientists and engineers–the sad state US science literacy can be seen in our persistent skepticism about global warming and its major causes, not to mention religion-based rejection of evolution and paleontology.

    January 22, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Fair is Fair

    "Too stupid to see it? Middle class Americans are paying lower federal taxes on the second inaugural day than they were on the first. I feel better now."
    -----–
    Which federal taxes are lower now than they were on 1/20/2009? This should be good....

    January 22, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Darren

    As an environmental scientist, I would be labeled a skeptic when it comes to 'man-made gobal warming theory' and I am an outright pessimist when it comes to the solutions that swirl around the issue. I'm not saying that human activity is not to blame for global climate change, but after spending countless hours reading data on the subject, I am not convinced either. I am currently 50% certain that human activity is causing the problem and 50% certain human activity has little effect.

    One of the things that may tip me over to being a denier are the solutions that the come with the belief. Most solutions have to do with taxing and trading carbon emissions in the developed countries that opt to participate. I can not for the life of me understand how that will solve the problem. In this scheme, poor undeveloped countries will make money by selling carbon credits to the USA or Europe or any other industries in developed (participating) countries that emit carbon. So a dictator from the Congo will be getting paid handsomely for keeping his country backward by companies who operate in countries that force this scheme. Countries like China and India have already said that they will not participate in this scheme.

    So what do you think will likely occur? This is the likely outcome: China and India and other developing nations will grow even faster and emit even more carbon because the cost of doing business will be less than in participating countries. Third world countries like many in Africa will never develop because their 3rd world dictators will simply enjoy a new stream of money from selling their carbon credits. The USA and other mature industrial countries will shrink because the cost of doing business will be higher.

    And what will happen to carbon emissions? There will likely be little effect. It is a big money shuffle.

    January 22, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. Our Republic

    Is it time to rewrite our National Anthem?
    The subversives in power mock their oaths of office and undermine everything it stands for.
    Land of the what?

    January 22, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. The REAL Truth...

    The Republicans, not conservatives (I'm an independent conservative) have come out with their usual hate feedback on the POTUS inauguration speech. Surprise, surprise... bidness as usual for the extremists. The problem with the Tea Party is not their intelligence level (they've been infiltrated and taken over by extremists as was the Wall St. movement) but that they have become the far-right wing of the far-right wing. They refuse to compromise on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING the POTUS tries to do is seen as veiled excuses for a path to socialism, communism and blah, blah, blah.

    The conservative side of me says that 99 weeks of unemployment is too much, but the liberal side says you can't feed a family of 4 on a full time job at Micky D's. If you are unemployed for more than 6 months, 3 days a week you should report to work and do whatever the "corps" work is that week.. highway constructions, sewer and infrastructure work (to earn your $$$). the other 2 days of the week you can look for a job. Sounds FAIR to me!

    The largest issue is that companies are not hiring – so we're forced to continue benefits to avoid social meldown. They are not hiring because the GOP has ensured that we have NO STABLE BUSINESS CLIMATE... fix that, and the jobs and growth will return.

    January 22, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Wilson

    "Too stupid to see it? Middle class Americans are paying lower federal taxes on the second inaugural day than they were on the first. I feel better now."
    ----------------------------------
    Hmmmm, by the evidence that I see; each paycheck has dropped $52, deductions have decreased, extra taxes due to obamacare....give me some of the koolaide you are drinking, smoking, whatever, then I might be able to be happy about such a false outlook as well.

    January 22, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. SuperD

    I want to starve the President and his laughable agenda. Don't fund the fool a dime.

    Global Warming is just like Obamacare.....It has nothing to do with Heathcare! and nothing to do with climate change. It's just another scam to regulate and control people.

    You don't listen to a word Obama says, you watch what he does! Have you not figured that out by now?

    Obama does not care about the economy. Obama does not care about the debt. What made me sick is when he surrounded himself with children when he signed those gun control measures that nobody is going to follow. I wish I could have been a reporter there and said.

    "Mr. President, while you sit here among these children, saving them from gun violence, did you not inform them that because of you, each one of these children is now over 50K in debt due to your policies. Did you tell them that?That's not protecting the children, sir. That is inslaving them"

    His hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    January 22, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. geggyg

    @ wilson
    You talk about districts that voted 100% or nearly 100% for Obama , these districts are in states llike Ohio and Philadelphia who have Republican Governors and repub majorities in both houses , these are the people that gerrymandered the districts , drawing districts so that they contained mainly black or hispanic voters , generally in larger number than most other districts , with many areas of the staes who reliably vote repub splt into more and smaller districts , to give repubs a chance to win house seats. As for GOP monitors being kicked out of polling stations the elections themselves were overseen by repub officials . No district actually had more voters than registered voters , some districts did have more registered than the official population , but thats because the population figure was based on the 2010 Census, people would have moved so registered voters would have increased in those 2 years .

    January 22, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair asked:

    Which federal taxes are lower now than they were on 1/20/2009? This should be good....
    ----------------------------------
    The Stimulus, which the right wing publicly hated so much, was actually 40% tax cuts and credits. There was a tax cut included for middle class income levels, which has since been made permanent. This cut went beyond the "Bush Tax Cuts" for the middle class. It is also a significant contributor to our annual deficit and growing national debt.

    January 22, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Ancient Texan

    Rudy- We can agree on one thing....Folks that have degrees out the kazoo that spend a lot of time walking into walls and don't have a clue about what goes on in the real world.

    January 22, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. beevee

    Clearly climate change (warming) is a golbal issue and human contribution is undeniable. Only the wise realize it and do something about it while the idiots keep contributing to it until it hits home by which time it is too little too late. What we need a concerted global effort to minimize human contribution to global warming.

    January 22, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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