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. Bob in Ohio (not Bob, please!)

    Gary asks "Is it (climate change) happening solely because of man? Most likely not.""

    Therefore it appears, Gary, you are saying since it is not solely happening because of man, we should do nothing?

    Brilliant logic.

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

    All are worthy causes. First is Job creation. Days of Orthodox has passed. As long we try to repress women, minority and disadvantaged there will no harmony. Climate change is as real as force of gravity. It does not make whether we accept and act to rectify or be ready for the consequences.

    January 22, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    CNN polls are always so biased for the Dem socialists, they are nothing but propaganda.

    47% of America oppose Obama, in all of his policies. Additional numbers will oppose him on various issues.

    January 22, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Jack Wolf

    We, the People, demand that We be protected from the ravages of extreme weather caused by rapid ongoing climate change.

    We, the People, are getting really pissed off that nothing has been done while scientists indicate we need 80% emission reductions.

    We, the People, think this is a crime against humanity.

    We, the People, have children that will look at the Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Obama administrations with scorn due to their inaction.

    We, the People, will all soon need to be preppers thanks to the misinformation doled out by fossil fuel interests.

    We, the People, are upset at the lack of affordable green options available to us as consumers both now and in the past.

    We , the People, need to stand up and do something.

    January 22, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. The Sheriff

    The top priority should be jobs, Jobs, JOBS !! Prez Obla Bla so far is a total failure .. He's a self-absorbed actor who is better at drama than Ronald Reagan ever was. He has left many many people unemployed or with part time hourly gigs that often get laid off, put back on, then laid off again. Big Labor does not help us. Too many blacks , whites, Asian, Latin unemployed cannot get decent jobs. New nursing students can't find jobs. The media lie .. lie .. and lie again. Sick and tired of the jive crap coming out of Washington DC.

    January 22, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. USA

    worst president EVER!!

    January 22, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Larry L


    Mr Obama says climate change is going to be a burden on our kids.
    ===================================================================================================== Climate change will cause catastrophic droughts across the Mid-West (no food!), super-storms will increase across the South and storms like Katrina and Sandy will become commonplace. Tropical disease patterns for dengue, malaria, West Nile, leishmaniasis, cholera, and others will creep northward as temperatures allow. Within the next century we'll be required to evacuate many low-lying areas and relocate huge portions of our population. Where will they live and what will they eat? The rest of the world will suffer similar fates and the world economy will likely collapse. Most of the worlds foods are produced in river deltas which will flood with the rising sea. Do any of these outcomes seem serious to you? Can you reject the analysis of about 98% of the world's credible climatologists and accept the ravings of "Dr.s" Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck – guys with absolutely no credentials? Really?

    January 22, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. just askin

    so was the poll taken in new york or california or massachusetts? i doubt that 814 people were evenly distributed around the country. 60% of urban voters support obama, 43% of suburban voters support obama and only 27% of rural voters support obama. want to skew a poll? that how you do it.

    January 22, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. noneyobeeswax

    FYI to all: a poll of about 800 people has a confidence interval of 95% that the margin of error is 3-4% (about 600 and 1000 samples respectively for 3 and 4 percent error).

    In English: There is a 1 in 20 chance that whatever the measured percentage was, that the actual percentage differs by more than 3%-4%.

    Professional statisticians are also aware of (and eliminate) a whole slew of confounding issues in how questions are worded and samples are taken. Please people, do not try to back seat drive someone in their the own field. It is bad enough that Scientists are either ignored or used as political fodder on the very real issue of climate change due to primarily to human activity.

    January 22, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. just askin

    obama ran on the "balanced approach". he got his tax increases. where are the spending cuts he will agree to??? pelosi is out there talking about even more new taxes and eliminating exemptions which exposes more income to taxation. where are the real spending cuts obama? or did you lie to us again?

    January 22, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Al Bore

    BAAAHHHHH .. BAAAHHHH ... Tell me what to think

    January 22, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Jolat

    Climate change is real. Our climate has been changing since the birth of our planet. NOTHING we can do to stop or change it. A climate change tax means they are taxing the air.

    January 22, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Dave in Houston

    I'm surprised he didn't 'bless' the nation with the Isaiah 9:10 quote (like Daschle and Edwards) previously did.

    This nation is doomed to fall unless God's people heed and obey 2 Chronicles 7:14

    - and all the self-serving promises and lofty speeches by all our politicians can't change that by the slightest jot or tittle.

    January 22, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. MacV

    Climate change: Scientists can only infer from data what the earth should be doing NOW. Humankind has been on the earth a relatively short time. Humankind is contributing, but to what extent, I don't know. Anyway, was it humans that caused the ice age to end?
    Immigration: IF you crossed the border illegally, you are a criminal. Accept it.If you want to be here legally, you pay a fine, and apply for a green card. The best you can hope for is Resident Legal Alien Status, no hope for citizenship (Also part of the price you pay for crossing illegally.) Your application also goes to the back of the pile, no special treatment. That also goes for your children as well. If they are now of legal age (18), see above.

    January 22, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. roger

    Prepare to lose about 25% more of your income when a Presidential directive goes out saying that all people must help support the down trodden and poor. I'm all for helping people that need it but not people that are to lazy to get off of their dead butts and work. If you can separate one from the other I would be glad to help.

    January 22, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Larry L

    @Amy in Cali

    Larry L
    @Amy in Cali
    That's 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.
    =================================================================================================== Is that really true or much of it a Fox News exaggeration? Do you expect people who are here on work visas to leave their families behind? Should they be able to participate in our healthcare system if they pay a part of their wages for insurance – as the law would require? Should they pay into Social Security and expect those benefits? What about income taxes? Should their children not attend schools even though the properties the families contribute school taxes and the families pay sales tax? Can you solve these complex problems with overly simple solutions?

    January 22, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Linda

    Dem Socialist???!!!! I guess Republicans don't have SS, use Medicare, Medicaid, or will use the universal heath care just as starters. How can anyone avoid or deny the extreme weather conditions going on? Scientists or GOP fantasy myths? No brainer there.

    January 22, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. "

    The "Premiss" in achieving real and lasting change must start with..."The WILL of the People"..Politicians of both stripes
    are responsible for our divided Country and the mess its in...and therfore they can no longer continue with their misguided policies of ..""...Take the debt-ceiling debate.."Waht does it mean"?
    First Washington Politicians keep spending the People's money beyond their means of sufficient funds thus creating
    huge-nsf Deficits and adding and adding to the National standing @$16trillion+ and growing. So, how long can America afford ao travel down this road and still remain..."Stronge and Free"...?

    January 22, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Dan M

    On the climate change front, it's a global problem. Those old enough will remember how bad our country was pollution-wise. We may not be perfect but the United States has made massive progress on cleaning up our environment. Positive reinforcement will go a long way here. Americans should be proud of what we've done, but that doesn't mean there isn't more to do. The biggest factor in global climate change is the rising industrialization of Asia. In order to enact change there we need a President that can influence the region. With a nuclear North Korea and China the biggest holder of our international national debt (American public is biggest), I'm not sure you can say Obama has done well here.

    January 22, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. NB

    It doesn't matter if Americans agree or not. Obama is stuck with a divided Congress which guarantees (for better or worse) that absolutely nothing is going to be accomplished during his second term.

    January 22, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Mike Texoma

    If one thing is true, it is that our world is in a constant state of flux. it means that today's poll is tomorrow's bird cage liner. We are all agents of change – whether active (making change) or inert (enabling change). Every American has to decide what our future ought to bring, and either make or enable that change to occur. Failing that, change will still occur – it just may be the change you wish had not occurred. What compels change is leadership. Leadership is about vision – motivation is about acceptance – whether the vision is right or wrong. This president can lead. This president has a vision for America. Americans prefer his vision, per the results of the last national election. He can get America where it wants to go. Polls are snapshots, not goals.

    January 22, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. rep

    Kinda tired of the random polls on climate change dictating if/how everyone should respond. This is science, not entertainment, and uninformed or under-informed opinions should mean very little to anyone.

    No one would take a poll on whether or not they think a chronic disease they have was caused by germs or by angry spirits in their bodies and then decide how to react based on those results. We simply consult our physicians and/or biologists. And no one in their right mind would take a poll on do decide whether thunder was caused by lightning or by angels tap dancing. We just consult our meteorologists.

    Similarly, we should consult our climate scientists to be informed about climate change and recommended courses of action. When we want to be concerned about what Joe & Jane Six Pack feel about something, we can just wait for a poll about the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo.

    January 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. whatamaroon

    the tinfoil eco-nuts are on this board in full court press. You dolts really need to take some ativan and chill out.

    January 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Dan M

    I believe we need a more open immigration policy, but we need much firmer controls on the social welfare received by people that simply show up one day and get freebies. We should have an open door to the world's educated first and foremost, and we need to make sure we aren't destroying our own labor force by flooding the market with people that are looking for training & skills. Immigration has done far more damage to labor unions than any Republican has.

    January 22, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. jerrymcm1970


    You mean the same ones that were predicting a new ice age in the seventies??? Or do you mean the ones that were caught manipulating the numbers to back up their bogus global warming contentions?

    No Donna, I mean the ones who, unlike you, have a vast knowledge of the subject.

    The "Climategate" fiasco has been shown to be overblown nonsense and as for ice age predictions, at the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age at some point in the next few centuries, a greater number published contradicting studies.

    Science evolves Donna, and with better evidence the consensus changes. It is never, however, a matter of public opinion.

    January 22, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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