CNN Poll: Do Americans agree with Obama on climate change and immigration?
January 22nd, 2013
05:00 AM ET
10 years 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.

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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. Bombastus

    What this survey shows is that about half the respondents can't analyze or accept facts. This is not a liberal vs conservative issue. Global warming is real and man has contributed greatly. Fact. We can argue about what to do about it, but not argue facts. This type of survey is a fgreat example of why we need to stress education in this country.

    January 22, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. Leo

    So let me get this straight. We don't want our grandkids to face bad weather, but its okay to leave them a mountain of debt?
    The whole ship is slowly sinking and almost nobody notices.
    Rome went slowly too. Too slow to see!!!!!

    January 22, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. Wilson

    "Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious."

    January 22, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. craig

    Our climate is changing, and anyone who denies this is simply stupid. It really is that simple.

    Now, only two things remain to discuss. First, is mankind causing at least a part of that change. Yup. It's pretty obvious to anyone who actually takes the time to look at the facts. Unfortunately that means most members of the GOP will never figure it out because we all know Facts don't interest them.

    Second, regardless of the cause, what should we be doing about it. Well, according to the GOP, the problem doesn't actually even exist, and their fallback position is that the climate has always been "changing." To support that, they mention the earlier ice ages, which, of course, couldn't possibly have happened, because the Earth in only 6000 years old. Oddly, this direct contradiction of their own positions doesn't seem to bother them much, but then, that's just part of that disdain for Facts.

    In short, the window to anything is all but closed, and Nero (the GOP) is still fiddling. When the obvious dumps upon them...with 20' of snow or a string of 60 100+ plus days, I guess they'll have to blame God, because there's just no one else left to blame, unless they can somehow blame the evil Liberals, and that's going to take some monumental spin!

    January 22, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Widow

    A bunch of jibber jabber.. A focus on gay and lesbian rights and climate change during a time of economic disaster looming speaks volumes about the president. He has no plan no ideas for an economic recovery besides spending.. No fiscal responsibility for the 5.8 trillion in debt he added which had zero sustainability. No business or organization on earth would give that kind of percentage of total worth away without sustainability. Not one. This just shows how whacky the president is. He puts a temporary brandaid on a problem then waits and moves on to other things. He is a joke and a con man like none other. Spending billions of our tax dollars in his campaign contributors in his 5.8 trillion in stimulus money. Where is the change? Making America broke with no plan on how to get out of the financial hole largely created by the democrats passing of the housing bill that helped America lose trillions in home values. All while the banks had full insurance thanks to the tax payers. The government gave stiff penalties to banks who didn't have a certain % of there loans be high risk loans.. Since they were insured by us the tax payers the banks went wild. It was a frank Dodd bill that bill Clinton signed into law.. He said it was the biggest mistake of his life. Then you look at the healthcare issues and the fed not even paying 30% of what they are billed for Medicare and Medicaid which falls back on the private healthcare industry costing Americans billions. Right there is enough to erase our debt and it was all created by democrats. Just like social security which is a failed program the democrats created and voted to steal from and spend the money how they want.. We haven't even gotten into the republican BS and I have already showed the cause of the debt.. Imagine how much of a surplus we would have if we stopped spending billions on illegal immigrants healthcare they never pay back and the free schooling for there kids since they don't pay taxes. Think of all the Americans that suffer as a result of these laws and programs created by the democrats. You realize the fiscal joke that party is. Uneconomic peril Obama worried more about making a name for himself with a healthcare bill loaded with pork. Gun laws that protect current gun owners from having there's taken away and a income tax of 3.8% on total income over 200k from the sale of your home, work income and any investments. Why is that in Obamacare? Why do they get to decide if I am worthy of treatment when I am 70 and have cancer that only has a 20% chance of being cured? They are going to deny you.. It is written in law in the thousand page healthcare scam that my own private healthcare provider in Illinois said would go up minimum 20% when the law goes into effect.. This president is a joke and a con man and a selfish arrogant ass.

    January 22, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Wake up People!

    With all of these quotes about Caesar and Rome should the POTUS beware the ides of March??

    January 22, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Tony in Maine

    Probably not – but the poll probably doesn't ask people when they actually had a thought that didn't originate with Pastor Billy Bob or Sean Hannity.

    January 22, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Amphiox

    One way or another the debt issue will come to a head in about 10 years. It will either be solved or the nation will fall. So our grandchildren will not inherit it no matter what. They'll be either born into a world where it is solved, or one where they will have far more pressing things to worry about.

    But climate change is about much more than just the weather they'll experience. It will be about whether or not there will be enough arable land to feed them.

    January 22, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. bubbabgone

    You mean it doesn't bother anyone else that when we have either a hot spell or a cold spell it's still to be blamed on climate change?
    I guess that's why they had to make the change from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" ... they needed a more flexible hook on which to hang their ideology.

    January 22, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. John

    I am pretty sure most American's want a better economy, more jobs and a government that is fiscally responsible then worry about climate issues and gay's being able to marry. For me its the same problem Obama had when he was first elected. He forgets about the economy and jobs. Its a broken record of Obama's interest in making history rather then repairing the Countries economy and employment. I guess its more nobel to want to be Robin Hood and a person bent on equality for all. But it won't solve the basic problems occurring in this Country.

    January 22, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. eviltaxpayer

    Carrying a lie is what obama and his media do best.

    January 22, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Bob

    @Leo, a slight change in weather will cause sea levels to rise at least a dozen feet. Look what destruction such an event caused along the Mississippi River. Now multiply that by about 10,000 when you consider ever shoreline will rise that amount. The cost to the economy would be in the TRILLIONS. And if you're going to bring up that tired, disproven argument that "the science is rigged and biases"- remember that the Koch Brothers funded their own survey with their own oil money in an effort to disprove global warming once and for all. To their shock (I guess they made the mistake of hiring real scientists and not oil company lawyer), their own funded studied concluded that global warming was real and manmade. Also, there were studies funded by the Bush administration that concluded the same thing (which is why W. buried their result for so long and cut the funding to the Energy Department). In fact, there have been studies done by tens of thousands of scientists in hundreds of countries going back forty years (in countries that don't like each other). They all concluded the same thing. Do you really think all those scientists got together (over time and space on their secret scientist radios?) to make up the whole thing? If you believe that, I bet you believe we never landed on the moon (despite the Chinese confirming we did- why would they lie for the U.S.?) or that the Sandy Hook children were never killed. You sick, deluded puppy.

    January 22, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Ancient Texan

    Widow- You have explained the situation 100% correctly, but the Obamabots won't read your contribution, or if they do will be venomous in rebuttal.

    January 22, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Healthcare wrote:

    Wait until more of the Obamacare goes into effect year end 2013: The approval rating will slip under 40%. We'd be far better off with a universal plan at this point.
    America is still reeling from the economic growth promised by Bush-43. But, let me tell you a secret. Obamacare is going to allow the Republican Party to paint itself into yet another political corner from which there is no escape. Here's why.

    You might be correct about final phases of implementation of ObamaCare may have a negative effect on the economy. The administration has already acknowledged this. They did so when the bill was passed. They noted that the final phases that you dread could be easily postponed a year, two years, or so.

    Now which way would Republicans vote on such a bill? Voting to delay would, in theory, help the economy. Voting for no delay would theoretically hurt the economy, but it would also mean they were voting for Obamacare and not against it. Smart conservatives should completely avoid your entire line of argument and criticism altogether. It's not well thought out, but I expect the tribe will jump on board.

    January 22, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. milan milenkovic

    Obama is hard working President who is doing his best to move USA forward in right direction. Problems did NOT appear over night and can NOT be solved over night. I do NOT agree with everything what he did during his first term, but definitely he has the best vision how to win the future for USA. I gave my full support to him and his Team to prevent gridlock in Congress, for “Economic Patriotism” , gun control… I am optimist about USA future.

    January 22, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair


    99% of scientists agree on what the objective, measurable, observable data is and what it shows about climate change: MSM reports on scientists' conclusions as though it's all up for debate and oh-so-dubious and that denial and skepticism is a legitimate position.
    Not saying that "climate change" isn't occurring. What I, personally, am skeptical about is whether it's being caused by man or if it's part of the earth's natural cycle... if the former, what can be done about it, and if the latter, understanding that nothing can be done about it. The Vikings didn't call what they discovered "Greenland" because it was a big chunk of ice.
    If, in fact it is the former as you suggest, will people act quickly and decisively enough to minimize its effects? That is the issue. Given the economics of the situation, it will be a hard sell, but not impossible.

    January 22, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. mariee

    Who did CNN poll...CNN?

    January 22, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. DeepeThought

    "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." Cicero

    Only 39% of Americans have a positive view of the USA. The president has let us down and is making what should have been a minor recession into a major drawn-out economic calamity. He is justly named the worst pres eevr, but keeps getting elected by offering more bread and circuses. Soon Christians will be thrown to the lions.

    January 22, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Ric

    Most americans are so politically biased (red and blue), they will never admit how wrong they are about anything. I say let Obama be president for the next 30 yrs and give him a completely democratic legislature during those 30 yrs. Take away all the excuses and people to blame. Only then will we see how ridiculus the liberal agenda actually is. No coal, no oil, no gasoline, no fossil fuels at all, no abortion, no imigration problem, no military. Everyone gets medical care from the government so we all live to be 110 on social security, top tax rates on the top whatever percent at 90% all the food stamps and unemployement you will ever need. national Debt..... who cares those stupid republicans 31 yrs ago caused that.

    January 22, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Second, regardless of the cause, what should we be doing about it."

    Well, we can always wait for a Steve McQueen type Blob to creepy crawly its way into our homes, leaving nothing but havoc and destruction in its wake. If that doesn't get GOPers attention, I don't supose anything will.

    Oh. Thats right. We are already tainted by air pollution, water pollution, crop pollution ... in our homes ... wrecking havoc and destruction.

    Cancer comes to mind.

    January 22, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. David

    Of course climate change is real; carbon levels are at the highest level in 800,000 years, we are releasing insane amounts of carbon into the air through the burning of fossil fuels, high levels of carbon equals warmer temperatures. Doubters are either ill informed or have financial motivation – they should be disregarded. In addition our addiction to fossil fuels is causing mass pollution of the air and water, oxygen depleted dead zones in the oceans, dessertification, extinction of animals through lost habitat, illness in people, etc., etc., etc. And for our security a diverse energy strategy and planning for water/food shortages is also prudent regardless of the cause.

    January 22, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. UDidntBuildThat

    How can we face any of these issues when we are broke! I guess money will come fr the rich right? the same Rich that are slowing putting their money elsewhere. By the time the economy blows up Obama will out of office, the spending will be more than anyone can handle, tough decision will have to be made and all the people that are getting little scraps fr Obama now – the same ones that voted for more scraps, will be cut off, the damage to the economy will be done and it will still be Bush's fault. Obama knows this and does not have to do a single thing to fix anything. He just have to give the appearance that he is and say it. The media will cover for him and sheeps will believe him.

    January 22, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    The president won with 51% of the vote. 47% did not vote for him and another large percentage of the population that were registered voters diidn't vote for anybody. So to say the entire nation is happy with the outcome may not be correct. AN estimated 20 million evangelical Conservatives stayed home on election day for whatever reason, but just may finally come alive in 2014 and insert sanity back into the equation.

    January 22, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. fon doe

    Probably not, you speak liberal you like just give,we are not liberal we are like ultra rebublican because the rest of the world already went more liberal, the US is just trendy

    January 22, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. minnie

    If someone takes the lead on global warming, there's a good chance that many more people can be educated about the facts; for too long, the media have presented this issue as if there is a real debate among scientists. There isn't. That doesn't mean that there will not always be some individual scientists who disagree with the consensus, just as some of the American people will continue to be in denial. What we can hope for is that strong leadership presenting the best current research will change enough minds for us to begin to deal with this crisis. And it's not going to be just "bad weather," unless that's how you describe Katrina and Sandy.

    January 22, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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