People believe what politicians tell them (climate change version)

I think one of the very important and little appreciated facts of American politics is how much elite opinion drives mass public opinion, rather than vice versa.  Climate change is a great example of this, with opposition to legislation and climate change denialism among the public (primary Republicans) being driven by the opinions of Republican elites.  Wonkblog’s Suzy Khimm highlights a recent study that highlights how this works:

But it turns out that politicians affect the way that Americans view the issue more than almost anything else, according to a new paper in the journal Climatic Change.

The researchers behind the study created a “Climate Change Threat Index” to gauge how the public views the impact of climate change over a nine-year period, and they conclude that GOP votes on environmental legislation have a particularly outsized effect. “In an extremely partisan environment, Republican votes against environmental bills legitimate public opinion opposed to action on climate change,” the authors write [emphasis mine]. “When the Republicans increase voting support for environmental bills, it reduces partisanship and increases public support for actions to address climate change.”…

The study acknowledges that the economic factors play a role as well as political ones: When GDP goes down and unemployment is high, the public is less concerned about climate change, contributing to the drop in concern after the 2008 financial collapse. But “the most important factor in influencing public opinion on climate change, however, is the elite partisan battle over the issue,” the authors conclude.

Again, this is not at all unique to climate change, just a particularly useful demonstration.

[And, cue complaint from Marriagecoach in 3…2…1…]


Photo of the day

Love this set of Civil War photos Alan Taylor has put together.  So many good ones.  Something about the shots like this, though, I find particularly compelling:

A black Union soldier sits, posted in front of a slave auction house on Whitehall Street in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1864. The sign reads “Auction & Negro Sales”. View a closeup detail of this image here. (George N. Barnard/LOC)

On sports fandom

Sometimes I feel a little silly getting so invested in a bunch of 18-22 year olds playing a game, just because they happen to attend the same college that I went to, but man, moments like this are simply awesome:

Yes, it is silly that I’m smiling a bit more and walking with a bit more spring in my step today because Austin Rivers hit this shot, but it does feel good.

Also, almost forgot to mention, that my favorite thing in all of sports is in college basketball when a shot leaves a players hand as time expires and if it goes in, they win; it goes out they, lose.  The ultimate in drama.  When Duke comes out on the good side of that, all the better.  Something like, oh, I don’t now, this:


I didn’t realize that Heath Shuler (failed NFL quarterback, “Blue Dog” from NC-12) until I was called by a reporter at Real Clear Politics (also didn’t realize they actually had their own reporters).  On the heels of Bev Perdue, they were looking to push a story of Democrats in disarray in North Carolina.  Which they may be, but Heath Shuler is simply a member of Congress who had a huge portion of the Democrats redistricted out of his district and didn’t want an uphill battle for re-election.  Kudos to RCP for using my counter-narrative quote:

“If Heath Shuler’s district had not changed for this election cycle, I don’t think there is anybody who thinks he would be stepping down right now,” says Steven Greene, professor of political science at North Carolina State University.

Shuler’s impending retirement “doesn’t suggest particular weakness about Democrats,” says Greene. “It speaks to the political reality of what Republicans were able to do” with redrawing district lines.


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