At first I began to emit hoots of derision over the fact that surprisingly few Americans even know what cap-and-trade is basically about.
Given a choice of three options, just 24% of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues. A slightly higher number (29%) believe the proposal has something to do with regulating Wall Street while 17% think the term applies to health
carereform. A plurality (30%) have no idea. More]
But maybe we're missing the implications here. To begin with, public polling under these conditions means diddly squat. It's like asking third-graders about accelerated depreciation. Public discussion could be little more than totally crossed wires, and absent a massive and problematic education campaign, could remain so indefinitely.
Under conditions like this, won't many voters simply follow the most trustworthy-seeming voice? Or even more powerfully, their intuition?
To be more precise: "For each three degrees that local temperature rises above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is 'solid evidence' that the earth is getting warmer." Maybe this explains why national surveys that ask people whether they believe in global warming tend to fluctuate fairly significantly, even over a few short months' time.So what I'm thinking is if the crucial vote on cap-and-trade comes about mid-July, the combination of summer temps and Obama's approval ratings will be enough to make pollsters report a poorly informed approval for such regulation.
Bonus finding: This local-weather effect is strongest on people who aren't particularly partisan, and it's pretty much non-existent for people who identify strongly with one party or the other. Committed Republicans tuning into Rush aren't likely to believe in man-made climate change no matter how sweaty it gets, while ardent Democrats won't stop listening to Al Gore just because there's a cold snap the day he's testifying before Congress. But for many people, this stuff appears to have a fair-sized impact, however scientifically iffy it might be. [More]
Nor do we have the kind of independent leadership in Congress to not follow the polls.
We could be looking at a whole mess of "change", simply because so many of us don't understand what is going on.