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. Torgo23

    This soon after an election, I believe that it is fair to say that one of two things must be true: either 1) a majority of the electorate agrees with the positions taken by the president, or 2) democracy doesn't work. One of them must be true.

    January 22, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. fedup

    Your are kidding right. By legalizing 12 million illegal aliens we are just asking for more taxes because they will sign up for every social service the US has forget about 47 million on food stamps that would go up atleat 6 million. I wonder if they would get free cell phones at the tax payer expense. We have legal channels for immigration as is. Why are those being ignored? Here is one idea to ponder: If you are inthe US illegally you must have documented evidence of employment and be able to pay taxes like the rest of us.

    January 22, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. noel

    the economy is toast and so is our country as long as OBOINGO is potus... it is a real pity that americans are SO dumbed down!!!

    January 22, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. critical thinking

    Lets be honest, Obama's next and most important focus will be his vacation, please wake up, this President is not concerned about america.

    January 22, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. betterdays

    Global warming, oops, I mean climate change: Even if it is man-made, we cannot possibly hope to undo what China and much of the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere is doing... although I understand it is the natural tendency of the bleeding heart to flail about with good intentions....

    The key word here is "global." Or would you propose to save "our" climate while they destory "theirs?" I think some of you have your priorities rather comically misplaced.

    January 22, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Tiz

    The earth has been warming for over a million years now.... before manufaturing and industry... how do you expect mankind to reverse this action... do tell....
    So this is what Obama wants to talk about now? Is he just going to completely avoid the crap-economy and debt he is responsible for or are we going to look the other way for 8 years? Unbelievable....

    January 22, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. CBP

    If people are not taking these weather changes seriously then how do they explain the storms, droughts, etc. WE are effected by the changes. When farm lands cannot sustain the crops, if these storms are doing more and more damage, and the dividing lines between cold and warm climates are not easily identified then we must try to find out what is going on. Americans are generally sheltered from the realities. Farm products arrive at our supermarkets and even though the cost goes up because of the storms or drought or flooding we do not seem to be worried. When the price goes skyrocketing then maybe we will look at what is going on. Then we will blame the Congress and the President for not doing an ything about it.

    January 22, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    An earned income credit applies only to middle class families with children under 18. The alternative minimum tax RARELY hits the middle class. Care to try again?
    --------------
    No need. The AMT cuts in above $50k per year. If that is not middle class, then do please tell us what is. The AMT has been hurting middle class families for the past two decades, and has been a hot topic in DC the entire time. Where have you been?

    January 22, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Frank

    Science and public opinion should be separated. If you had asked the public in the 16th century if the earth was flat, 99.9% would have said yes.

    I understand that the public should have a say on the impact of how science is applied, and how it's regulated. But scientific facts should be checked, verified or debunked based ob research not polls.

    January 22, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. Aerin

    Yes We Do

    January 22, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. dreamer96

    China has a smog problem in their large cities...but they could take that smog out of the air using many methods..like using one floor in each tall building as a filter system to draw in out side air from one side and bubble it through water tanks, or use cotton or carbon filters, and then send the clean air out the other side...we know rain reduces smog by capturing the tiny smog particles and bring them down to the ground..ever hear of acid rain?..Why not just filter out some of that smog and then process the dirty water...and reuse the water over and over again....And also China can work on using this method right at the coal fired power plants to keep the pollution from leaving those plants in the first place...

    January 22, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Ken in MD

    How is climate (not weather) research and scientific analysis a political issue? Repubs think global warming doesn't exist and Dems are sure it does. How can this be? Except possibly the "facts" that each side listens to. FOX News saying the scientists are wrong (on pretty much everything), and MSNBC saying that climate change is a product of man entirely.

    Most scientists agree that climate change is real, and that man plays an active role in making it worse. Is it entirely man's fault? No. Can we do something to prevent it from escalating? Yes. Will we? Not if the politicians have to decide whether to or not. They can't agree on anything without looking like they've lost something.

    January 22, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Ken in MD

    To everyone complaining about Obama focusing on "weather" instead of the economy, isn't it nice to have a President who can actually think about more than one thing at a time? There's a lot of issues he has to deal with. Spending every waking minute focusing on one topic does a huge disservice to all the other issues. He can talk about climate change without forgetting the economy. It's what intelligent people are capable of doing.

    January 22, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Blue

    Of course, President Obama wants to move our country forward, and I agree that his agenda is the right way to go. Did any GOP meet this time to plan against this president and just say no to everything?

    January 22, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Larry L

    @Bob

    Those weather crackpots have no credibility, could Obama possibly pick a more unimportant issue?
    =================================================================================================== A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analysed "1,372 climate researchers show that 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

    Big oil and coal bought a few "scientists" and those are ones you see on Fox News. Catastrophic climate change will greater impact on human health than all wars combined. Only a fool would ignore the implications.

    January 22, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Fair is Fair

    "No need. The AMT cuts in above $50k per year. "
    -------
    Absolutely, positively UNTRUE. Our family had made over $50K for the past 20 years. We have NEVER been subjected to the AMT. What are you on???

    January 22, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. 2020

    Paul, if you live by polls, you should walk with your head, and crawl in four. American can do much better than that. The Sandy storm speak loud and clear, you like it or not.

    January 22, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. SuperD

    Did it ever occur to you that if even Climate Change (or whatever you want to call it) even if it were true (it's not). The utter idea that man could do something to make the Earth change is a narcissit view. We don't have that power, we cannot control the Earth, the weather etc. Whatever we could do will not matter, the Earth is going to go through whatever cycle it's currently in regardless of the influence of man.

    Now I do realize that Delusional Democrats think Obama is a god, so that's really the problem here.

    Carbon Credits will make the Earth cool. That's essentially what the Demo-genius's would have you believe. Meanwhile, we'll tax your carbon output.

    I would like to challenge the deniers (deniers that Climate change is B.S.) to go onto a conservative website and post your non-sense and see if you have the self esteem to be called the idiot you most certainly are.

    January 22, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. ShawnDH

    Isn't it amazing that right-wing Republicans know more about climate change than climatoligists who study it for a living and who record and report their findings through strict scientific method? But Billy Bob says climate change is just a lib'rul conspiracy to seal his freedumbz...or something.

    It's really time to stop caring what American's right-wing goofballs think about any issue. Clearly, they are living in a backwards ideological fantasy world where little things like facts don't matter.

    January 22, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Why then does this trickle-down argument tend to constantly surface from the Republicans? Is is simply a ruse to protect the wealth of a relative few?"

    Yes. They learned nothing from what led to the French Revolution. It's just yet another case of "we think we can get away with it this time." A plutocrat and his head are soon parted....

    January 22, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    An earned income credit applies only to middle class families with children under 18. The alternative minimum tax RARELY hits the middle class. Care to try again?
    -----------------------
    Oops, I almost forgot. The EIC does not apply to income levels that could remotely be called middle class, which has absolutely nothing to do with children. You are confusing another feature of the Stimulus which was only applied for two years.

    January 22, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Lew

    So, we had to elect him again so that he can do now what he said he would do the first time. What makes people think the next four years will be any different? We have the same Congressional divide we did during his last term; he even had both Houses of Congress for two years and couldn't get anything passed besides the highly unpopular ACA. I see more of the same coming our way, which is not a good thing.

    January 22, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Larry L

    @critical thinking

    Lets be honest, Obama's next and most important focus will be his vacation, please wake up, this President is not concerned about america.
    =================================================================================================== That's "critical thinking"? The right-wing will only remain relevant when you cease the mindless and hateful comments and take part in the discussion. George W. Bush took more vacations than our current President. Did you complain? Ronald Reagan took more. Did that bother you? All Presidents are connected 24/7 and never really get away from the job. Fox News thinking is not "critical".

    January 22, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. sick of republican phonies

    You can thank the lies and misinformation spread by the republican climate-change deniers for the befuddlement of many of their constituents. It's not even debated by the scientific community anymore. Common sense alone will tell you- if you put millions and millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere it will have an effect. The deniers are sticking their heads in the sand.

    January 22, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Unbelievably, Rudy says:

    "Oops, I almost forgot. The EIC does not apply to income levels that could remotely be called middle class, which has absolutely nothing to do with children. You are confusing another feature of the Stimulus which was only applied for two years."
    ------–
    Nothing to do with children???????? Now I know you're blowing smoke. Here's the deal, Rudy... no children under 18, no EIC. Period. You're either woefully uninformed, or you're blatently spewing mistruths.

    January 22, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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