The historically red state of Indiana has long had an eco-not-so-friendly reputation. But compared to just three years ago, more Hoosiers now cite climate change as one of the more serious problems facing our world today — and one that needs to be addressed.
That shift appears to be driven largely by Republican voters who, according to a new statewide poll, are becoming more environmentally conscious.
The survey, commissioned by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and conducted by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute, sought to determine how important environmental issues are to Hoosiers, and how those opinions have changed in recent years.
The results were based on two surveys, the first done in 2017 and the second conducted earlier this year. In both surveys, 800 registered voters that are representative of Indiana’s demographics were polled.
The results: Indiana voters care about the environment. Some of the key findings include:
- The vast majority of survey respondents — eight in 10 Hoosiers — would prioritize protecting the environment, even if it slowed economic growth.
- The environment remains the third top priority for Hoosiers, behind only education and health care, pulling even with attracting new business and retaining jobs.
- 79% of Indiana voters think that the earth’s average temperature is rising, and largely the result of human activity.
- And 66% believe that climate change is one of the most serious problems facing the world today.
- Seven in 10 residents believe that both the state and federal government need to do more to address climate change.
Environmental and climate change issues regularly find themselves caught up in politics. It wasn’t always that way, however, according to Nathaniel Geiger, an assistant professor at Indiana University’s Media School who studies the psychology of climate change and the environment.
“Twenty, 30, 40 years ago, back then it was much less polarized,” he said. “And it’s actually data from the early '70s that suggest that at some point Republicans were more concerned about environmental issues than Democrats were.”