Poll Finds Climate Change Still An Important Issue For Floridians Amid COVID-19

Jun 26, 2020
Originally published on June 25, 2020 5:03 pm

A recent poll from Florida Atlantic University finds that the coronavirus pandemic has not significantly changed the way Floridians feel about climate change.

The third Florida Climate Resilience Survey by FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies and the Business and Economics Polling Initiative finds that 89% of respondents (83% of those in North Florida) accept the science of climate change, up from 86% in January and 88% in October 2019. 

According to the poll, Floridians acceptance of climate science is significantly higher than the record-tying level amongst Americans found in an April survey by Yale and George Mason Universities. That survey found that 73% of respondents nationwide agreed that climate change is happening.

Meanwhile, 55% of Floridians (46% of those living in North Florida) say in a different but similar question that humans are causing climate change, despite widespread scientific consensus that human activity is the cause.

“Almost overnight, the coronavirus dramatically transformed American life, but it’s encouraging to see that climate change remained a hot button issue for Floridians despite the public health crisis that shifted everyone’s priorities,” said Colin Polsky, director of the FAU Center for Environmental Studies and lead author of the study.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The latest FAU poll also showed that most Floridians aren’t happy with how the state is responding to climate change, with 29% of respondents saying they don’t think the government is doing enough to address the issue.

While Florida Democrats are still more likely to accept the science of climate change than Republicans (89% versus 86%), acceptance is growing within the GOP. 

“Because Florida is a political bellwether state, this solidifying of public opinion among Florida Republicans about the reality of climate change may signal a similar change in coming years for the GOP across the nation,” Polsky said.

The recent 86% acceptance rate among state Republicans is higher than it was in January (81%) and October (83%). 

Acceptance among Florida Democrats fell during that time from 95% in October to 91% in January and again to 89% in this most recent poll.

“It’s still a bit of a surprise and remains to be explained further,” said Polsky. “What we see, though, is kind of a corresponding jump among the Republicans and the Independents, roughly speaking.”

The latest quarterly statewide survey polled 1,319 Floridians from April 1-13 and May 4-10 while many residents were still under stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The data was collected using an online panel provided by Dynata. FAU said the margin of error was +/- 2.7%. 

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

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