A small sample of swing voters in three of America’s top battleground states shows climate change is a concern, but not an urgent crisis.
The big picture: The results of focus groups in Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin suggest that some of these voters have views on climate change that are in between Democratic presidential candidates, who think it’s a crisis, and President Trump, who dismisses it altogether.
How it works: Groups of between nine and 11 swing voters in those three states answered questions about a range of topics, including climate change.
- These focus groups, conducted by the nonpartisan research firms Engagious and Focus Pointe Global, are a small handful of voters and don’t offer a statistically significant sample like a poll.
- But the responses provide a richer snapshot of how some voters in key counties are thinking about climate change in the 2020 election.
What they’re saying: The participants were asked the following fill-in-the-blank exercise: Climate change is a ____.
- Of the more than two dozen responses, most (14) chose words that somehow described climate change as a problem, with “concern” being the most common.
- Just four people chose words that made it clear they roundly dismissed climate change as a problem at all (like Trump).
- Nobody described climate change as an emergency.
Why it matters: The degree of urgency is a key factor in whether climate change becomes a big enough priority to help determine their vote. Although this topic is getting more attention this election than it has perhaps ever before, these lukewarm reactions suggest it’s not breaking through.
- Most of the focus group participants didn’t rank it in the top five of their priorities.
- Polling shows more Americans are worried about climate change and want action on the matter, but most of the increased concern is coming from Democrats.
What to watch: When asked if climate change is an emergency, one voter said her daughter would describe it that way.
- I'm watching to what degree younger voters — who polling suggests are more worried about climate than older generations — retain that urgency as they get older. This could determine whether climate change will be a more decisive issue in future elections.