Battleground State Voters Strongly Prefer Biden to Trump on Climate, a New Poll Finds

After a summer of extreme weather, Americans demand climate leadership.

A couple pose for photos by the Golden Gate Bridge at noon in San Francisco.Wu Xiaoling/Xinhua, Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

To the millions of American voters who have experienced unprecedented wildfires, relentless storms, and extreme heat this summer, climate change has become personal. Sixty percent of voters in eight battleground states say they have felt the effects or know someone who has, according to a new poll of 896 registered voters surveyed late last week by Public Policy Polling.

PPP, commissioned by the electoral climate group Climate Power 2020, asked voters about extreme weather in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura and the still-raging wildfires in the west. Eighteen percent said they personally experienced impacts, while 21 percent had family affected and another 21 percent knew someone affected. 

That’s really bad news for Trump.

The president has spent months contradicting his own public health experts and minimizing the toll of a pandemic that has left 200,000 Americans dead, predicting the crisis would turn around on its own. He’s spent the last four years being just as wrong on climate change. 

Last Monday in a roundtable in Sacramento, California, Trump added onto his long record of denial. “It’ll start getting cooler, he predicted. “You just watch.” In a speech at roughly the same time in Delaware, Biden said, “The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon. It’s science.” 

The pollster asked voters in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin which of the candidate’s statements aligned with their views. A clear majority, 55 percent, chose Biden, who was overall the lead candidate in the PPP poll. That compares to a much smaller 28 percent who agree with Trump’s climate views (while 15 percent said neither match their view). Most voters also trust Biden over Trump to respond to climate change.

“The divide of battleground state voters’ views on Trump’s science denial versus Biden’s embrace of climate change and science is striking,” said Jim Williams of Public Policy Polling Group. “A 27-point margin on any issue is quite unusual and shows that taking on climate can have a real impact on voters and—that Donald Trump’s science denial is a real vulnerability for him.”

PPP also found that two-thirds of these voters think climate change should be a priority for the president (with 39 percent, saying it should be a top priority). These findings echo earlier polls that have found climate denial to be a top vulnerability for Trump, and of rising importance to the electorate. That’s especially true for Democrats, who said in a recent NPR, PBS, and Marist poll it’s the top issue, followed by the coronavirus and health care. 

This follows the findings of the progressive think tank Data for Progress, which found that voters trust Biden over Trump to handle natural disasters by 7 points. Over a series of polls the month, the think tank found that there has been a six-point uptick, from 30 to 36 percent, among Republican voters who say the hurricanes and wildfires weather are becoming more extreme because of climate change.

“In the final push to November, voters are looking for candidates who not only believe in science, but also have a bold plan to address climate change,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “Following weeks of climate fires, hurricanes and severe flooding, voters understand that the climate crisis is here—and that it’s making these extreme weather events worse.” 

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate