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. Mark

    Mr Obama says climate change is going to be a burden on our kids. Not like the crushing debt that will sadlde them as interest rates rise. Lord I wish the Mr. Obama would just do the arithmetic for us on a chalk board so we all get it. Ah wait, Glenn Beck is such an idiot for that type of behavior.

    January 22, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    @Fair – You are confusing the "Earned Income Credit" and the "Child Tax Credits". You can qualify for the EIC when you have no kids if your annual income is at or below $13,500. The more kids you have, then the higher the income level that is allowed for you to qualify for EIC.

    Again, EIC is not aimed at income levels that would be described as middle class. It was introduced to encourage people to work a job, instead of applying for welfare.

    January 22, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Garyinco

    Someone above said that a poll of 814 people is "virtually useless." Statistically speaking.. A poll of this size if, and it can be a big if.. if taken randomly can be quite accurate in terms of being representative of a population. But again the sample has to be random, hence the need for random number generating programs. A sample of people called on the telephone might be less than random if only land line numbers were used, as would a sample of only mobile phones.

    AS far as priorities..I think he got it right. I'd put climate change at the top to the list. All the doubters are going to start coming around in the next 5-10 years I'm afraid. How I wish they were right. It will be in the low to mid 60's here in the Denver metro area today. Very pleasant for January, but it doesn't bode well for July. At around 5300 feet altitude we're starting to see this more and more.. Canary in a coal mine?

    January 22, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. larryg

    I believe entitlements should be based on the needs of the poor and disabled. The whole entitlement system does not account for the different earning possible in different states. If you are from a poor state you will always be poor no matter how you figure it. I owned my own business for 30 years, when I became disabled my first $800.00 check was greatly appreciated. It did immediately and permantly move me to the poor. Because I can't work I do not qualify for food stamps and I make $20.00 to much to qualify for medicare. This system needs to be fixed to help those in poverty giving them a reasonable hope of living without having to live with other family members which are no better off than I am. On the upside if they did balance this program capitolism would work better. We have no choice except to spend our money thereby creating the flames needed to create a stable base for capitolism and the economy as a whole. I hope that Mr. Oboma will fix this inequality built into the system.

    January 22, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Bob in Ohio (not Bob, please!)

    It is interesting that many of those who appear to be worried about their/our children being burdened by the deficit don't seem to give a rat's behind about the effect climate change could have on their children's future. Kind of funny, pathetic and sad all at the same time.

    January 22, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Amy in Cali

    Larry L
    @Amy in Cali
    Any solution to illegal immigration STARTS with ensuring that another 20 million illegal immigrants don't invade the USA over the next 10 years. That means the southern border must be fenced and defended.
    =================================================================================================== Are you or your family members willing to pick the fruit, process the meat, do the brutal masonry work, landscape the lawns, of any of the other tasks we've relegated to immigrants?

    This is what Work Visas are for. I have no problem with the country allowing this as long as it isn't used to flood the country with people that do nothing but consume social services that we have to borrow to pay for. They should have to have a person or company willing to employ them and proof of medical coverage. The country needs workers and contributors, not vagrants and free loaders.

    January 22, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. On StreetWise

    There's plenty of immigration laws on the books in place. We already have a boarder "Fence" to defend too... it starts with our friendly conservative business person. That "Fence" is full of holes that hire the undocumented at low wages, and brake our laws. Solution; enforce, prosecute and punish the "Illegal" business owner... simple and just.

    January 22, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Steve

    Obama doesn't care what Americans think. He's going to tax and spend the country until we become Greece.

    January 22, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Republiker

    How much longer before we can see some Hope and POSITIVE change? The Democrat Freeloader Party won. What next? More free phones?

    January 22, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. California Gary

    Right you are dmama4obama.......any concerns about jobs should most assuredly be passed along to all those tea party types that came to office in 2010. They came in saying jobs, jobs, jobs.......but that quickly turned to abortion, abortion, abortion. And when Obama put forth a jobs bill, the chant from the GOP was no, no, no. They have a lot of nerve now to complain about jobs.

    January 22, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Gary

    What people on both sides have to consider is that climate change is both a natural occurrence, and a man-made issue. The earth's climate has changed several times over the eons of time. Has the pollution and greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution began been a factor? Most likely. Is it happening solely because of man? Most likely not.

    January 22, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |

    @Greatly concerned
    Worst president ever.

    January 22, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |

    Worse than the one who started 2 unfunded wars?

    Sour grapes much?

    January 22, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Dean P

    We have rather large snakes in Florida but the biggest ones in North America are writing for CNN. I am sure that what we are doing to the planet has contributed to dirty air and water, no doubt about it, but how much affects Global Warming because of it is less clear. CNN has a political agenda that clearly is one sided, it's not reporting the news as much as favoring one side. Inauguration is a tradition of every president since Washington. I have not watched one however, I have a job, catch it on the news when I get home. These past two have historic value certainly, but the gushing coverage by the news media paints this rock star, utopian, larger than life figure that no other president has enjoyed. While I may not like his or the democrats politics he is still "our" president, that respect he deserves. I for one will judge him on #1 issue, the economy. All these other issues have far less concern for me than how will my children find employment in Obama' Utopian society. So far I have not seen much in the way of progress.

    January 22, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. ABarker

    If they "polled" a sample of people that actually meshed with the makeup of America, they would get a very different result. This is nothing more than leftist pipe dreaming.

    January 22, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Mike

    To Greatly Concerned where were you between 2000 and 2008 when Bush was running things? Obama is still cleaning up the disasters that big talking joke left this country in. From the two unfunded wars with no objectives to the melt down of the financial system from the fanatical belief in free markets at all costs until we all have to bail out the corporate crminals with no strings attached. If you think Obama is worse than Dubya you are delusional.

    January 22, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. christina

    I am in agreement with a lot of the others on here. we need to focus on bigger issues. we are one of the most open countries when it comes to allowing people to come to the united states who are from other countries... we need to stop all the wars in the middle east over oil and protect our borders.

    January 22, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY


    @Greatly concerned
    Worst president ever.

    January 22, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |

    Worse than the one who started 2 unfunded wars?

    Sour grapes much?

    Nope. they're just stuck in their Way-Back machine in years 2001-2008

    January 22, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Rob

    We will all feel the pain of Obama's Nazi EPA

    America voted Obama in twice, they voted for big government, they voted to be controlled, they voted for generational debt

    January 22, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Richard

    Where was the topic of spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Obama ran on this important issue in 2008 and again in 2012 but his speech gave no indication that he is serious about this, Even the least informed voters know that our spending is out of control and the economy is based on a fiscally strong country.
    Also he gave not indication whatsoever that he was going to work with republicans. Here we go again, spending by democrats only leads to republican to get in and clean up the mess. If democrats want to stay in power they need to do the social programs and find ways to pay for them. We would never see another republican in office if they could do that! Let get gitmo closed, stop the wars and bring out that wonderful idea Obama promised TRANSPARENCY in Govt!

    January 22, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. CatastropheCathy

    I don't think gay marriage should be a presidential issue. The president should address fiscal policies and foreign policies. Social issues can be addressed at a lower level of government. Plus the biggest issues right now are people taking care of themselves and having jobs not guns and gay marriage.

    January 22, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Mark

    Get ready for gas and electric prices to soar

    January 22, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Ancient Texan

    Obama's real concern is not climate change,global warming, the weather, or whatever the Al Bore scam is calling it now. His focus is CAP AND TAX and more "Green Inititive" taxpayer giveaways.

    January 22, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. i'malib

    All I know is now that this new guy has been elected, he better do a better job than Palin. She was terrible! The last four years were awful! We need to raise taxes, or 'redistribution levels' on everyone and give it to people who deserve it. Like me. I don't care about global whining, I just want my fair share. After all, didn't Harry Pelosi say I stimulate the economy by collecting foodstamps? Just doing my part. Well, with that said, Hogans Heroes is on. The rest of you, get back to work. Remember, its not a tax, it is 'redistribution'. Enjoy.

    January 22, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Ancient Texan

    Richard- Obama has no intent to cut spending; just keep printing money (devalueing the dollar) and keep his nanny state promotion.

    January 22, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. skeptic

    Obama is basing his recommendations for climate change on scientific findings. I am certainly more confident about scientific findings than I am about the rantings of those who know nothing and reveal their ignorance about climate change.

    January 22, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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