Barry Rabe is an environmental policy professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the Ford School.
We found in our late fall 2012 survey, that there continues to be an uptick in Americans' belief in the existence of global warming. We have now seen in recent surveys a jump back up from levels of the last couple of years, both beliefs that are on the 50 percent level toward nearly 7 out of 10 Americans believe there is solid evidence of global warming over the last four decades.
We've noticed a significant increase in the level with which the Republicans believe global warming is occurring. Now that still reflects substantial differences between Democrats and Republicans, but for the first time in four years a majority of Republicans, now 51 percent, in the survey believe there is solid evidence of global warming.
This doesn't necessarily mean the parties are converging, but there is a significant movement on the Republican side of this. Political affiliation is still a very, very good predictor. That said, certainly we see continued reliance on some personal experience in reference to climate change, especially amongst those who believe it is occurring.
On the flip side, we notice that the people who do not think there is solid evidence are less-and-less inclined to refer to some weather experience, much more inclined to talk about natural variation or perhaps politicization of the issue.