Support for ETS slips below 50%

The latest climate change Morgan Poll finds that support for the government’s ETS has fallen below 50% for the first time, and is now at 46%, compared to 50% last November and 55% last August.

This seems to be due to low support (34%) among voters aged 50 or more, as all the other age groups are still at 50% or more.

Though there is no detail on Morgan’s website, a story about the poll in Crikey suggests that the shift is due to the growing partisanship of this issue that I blogged about last month. They don’t give a number for Coalition supporters, but if as Crikey says Labor and Green voters have become more likely to support the ETS, the overall decline must be due to weaker support from Coalition voters.

One curious thing: On the question about whether concerns about global warming are exaggerated the comparisons are all with November poll, omitting any mention of a December poll that asked the same question.

Update: Pollytics has the full results.

4 thoughts on “Support for ETS slips below 50%

  1. I argued at LP last month that the change in opinion on climate change was most likely to be the result of changing partisan cues over a period, particularly from the Coalition.

    What is quite interesting is that the percentage approving the CPRS has fallen between November 2009 and January 2010 even though the percentage saying that “concerns are exaggerated” has plateaued over the same period, and the percentage saying “act now” has risen somewhat.


  2. Paul Norton

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that. There is an awful misconception among the media elite/commentariat (and that includes the keyboard culture warriors) that the citizenry are just blank states waiting to be pushed and shoved this way and that by politicians, when the opposite is more the case.
    It is the politicians who take their cues from civil society. John Howard understood this, Paul Keating did not. Thus far, it looks like Kevin Rudd is doing John Howard better even than the master himself. Otherwise Labor’s complete inaction on climate change is inexplicable, as would so many other of his policy initiatives, such as the MySchool public data about schools program.
    Given the Coalition’s spectacularly low polling, I don’t know anybody who is really even listening to them, let alone adjusting their positions according to the daily changes in the wind, which is the main driver of Coalition policy at the moment.


  3. Peter – I think Paul is right in this case though your general point in the first paragraph is I think correct. On my reading of both the US polling literature and the Australian polls, politicians don’t usually have a large impact on matters where there is long-established public opinion or the issue can be readily assessed from personal experience. However on highly complex issues like climate change – where very large percentages of people will admit to limited knowledge – the public relies on cues from other people. Until recently, the expert-media consensus on climate change had been the dominant cue, but over the last few months another powerful cue – the stance of the party a voter supports – has come into play.


  4. Andrew, you could be right. I suppose on climate change policy specifically, the sorts of attitudes that can bubble independently out in voter-land – that are formed via a myriad of influences and sources – relate to how much people are prepared to sacrifice of their current living standards, their general degree of trust in science and scientists, per se, cynicism towards the UN, and so on.

    It is these sorts of cues politicians receive, and then weave them back into their policies. I’m not a sophisticated enough statistician (it’s been a while since I studied any stats), but I do recall there are nifty ways of being able to get closer to correlation vs. causation, and which way the causation goes. I might have a much closer look at Possum’s blog, as he seems far and away the most informed public source on this stuff.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s