College-educated Republicans are more likely to think climate threats are overblown

Education, it would appear, can't correct for partisanship

Published March 27, 2015 3:58PM (EDT)

   (Iurii Davydov/Shutterstock)
(Iurii Davydov/Shutterstock)

Well, looks like appealing to Republicans' intelligence in accepting the science on climate change is destined to be a losing battle.

That's because the more educated Republicans are, a new Gallup survey finds, the more likely they are to think that the threats of climate change are overblown. Of Republicans with a college degree, 74 percent say the seriousness of global warming is "generally exaggerated" in the news; that number drops to just 57 percent of GOPers with a high school degree or less. Only 8 percent of college-educated Republicans say they worry "a great deal" about global warming, moreover, while 23 percent with high school or less do.

And no, it's not because going to college gives Republicans the skills to see through the major hoax that is the 97 percent consensus on man-made climate change. After all, the opposite phenomenon occurs for Democrats: only 15 percent of those with a college degree think the threats are exaggerated, while 27 percent with high school or less feel that way. The members of both parties with college educations were more likely to tell Gallup that they understand the issue "very well."

So what gives? In a nutshell: partisanship. "Education does not mitigate the partisan divide in beliefs about global warming," Gallup notes, "but instead strengthens it."

These results come from some 6,000 interviews conducted between 2010 and 2015; over that time period, Americans' views on the threats of global warming have remained consistent. But Gallup points out that the divide between Democrats and Republicans on this issue has been widening over time: way back in the good old days of 1997, members of both parties were equally likely  (a little under 50 percent) to say that global warming's effects had "already begun to happen."

For Republicans, Gallup also found very little difference, regardless of education level, on whether they think most climate scientists agree that global warming is real. No amount of learning, it would seem, can convince the right-wing to abandon their conspiracy theories.

By Lindsay Abrams

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Climate Deniers Education Partisanship Republicans