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Partisan strength and the politicization of global climate change: a re-examination of Schuldt, Roh, and Schwarz 2015

  • Alexandre Morin-ChasséEmail author
  • Erick Lachapelle
Research Article

Abstract

In the USA, self-identified Republican supporters tend to be more skeptical about the existence and consequences of global climate change (GCC) than Democratic supporters. If this phenomenon is well established, discussions about the “partisan gap” often treat partisan groups as if they were two homogeneous blocks. In this article, we question this practice. According to theory, strong partisan identification (PID) puts pressure on partisans to hold beliefs that conform to elite discourse and to perceived in-group positions. Meanwhile, public opinion research on environmental issues offers reasons to expect greater heterogeneity among Republicans than among Democrats. This literature leads us to predict that strong Republicans will be more skeptical about GCC than Republican leaners, whereas among Democrats, PID strength will not be associated with greater confidence in the existence of GCC. Our study tests this hypothesis leveraging the characteristics of a unique dataset where strong partisans are purposively oversampled to facilitate group comparisons. Results from multivariate regression models support our prediction. Next, our study also examines how PID strength shapes more complex patterns found in the literature. Previous work has shown that, compared to Democrats, the views of Republicans are less correlated with educational attainment and more influenced by issue labeling (e.g., global warming vs climate change). Our study tests if PID strength also moderates these factors. This time, interaction models produce mixed results. Overall, our findings suggest that breaking down GCC beliefs by PID strength can reveal a more nuanced understanding of the differences between and within partisan groups.

Keywords

Environmental politics Partisan gap Global climate change Partisan attachment Interaction effects Polarization Issue label 

Notes

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Copyright information

© AESS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Institutional ResearchUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada

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