Yale University and George Mason University took a deep dive into the relationships between political identity and views on climate change. In other words, they tried to figure out what the hell is going on in the minds of Tea Partiers. Godspeed, brave souls.
Here's what sets Tea Partiers off from the rest of us:
- They do not believe global warming is happening. Duh. Only 34 percent of Tea Partiers believe in global warming, vs. 53 percent of Republicans. 53 percent of Tea Partiers aren't even wavering: they know global warming's not happening.
- Those snowstorms last winter made them wonder if global warming was real at all.
- They seriously believe there's disagreement about the science behind this stuff.
- They're so damn sure of themselves! According to the study, they're "much more likely to say that they are 'very well informed' about global warming" and that "they 'do not need any more information' about global warming to make up their mind.” (Fun fact! This is actually a known cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger effect — the more incompetent you are, the higher you rate your abilities.)
- They're not NIMBYs, though. They're keen on building new nuclear plants, and unlike Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, a majority would actually support having one in their local area.
But here's where Tea Partiers more or less fall in line with the political mainstream: The majority of them believe that "protecting the environment either improves economic growth and provides new jobs or has no effect on economic growth or jobs." They’re also the group most likely to say the opposite, which is no surprise — but only 33 percent of them think environmental protections are bad for employment.
Let's go over this again. The majority of everyone, including Tea Partiers (Tea Partiers!), does not believe that helping the environment will hurt jobs. That's just an argument drummed up by political professionals in Washington to push an ideological, anti-government, anti-regulatory agenda. So when President Obama decides to delay environmental regulations, he's catering to beliefs that a minority of a minority hold. Which make total political sense, right? Right.