By Ben Geman - 09/24/12 04:57 PM EDT
Sixty-four percent of undecided voters believe Obama should be doing more to address climate change, and 72 percent say Congress should be doing more.
That’s similar to Obama’s backers, according to the poll, which found that 61 percent of likely Obama voters want him doing more and 78 percent want more action from Capitol Hill.
In contrast, 35 percent of Romney’s likely voters want Obama doing more, and an equal share of Romney’s backers want Congress taking more action.
The data arrives as the Environmental Protection Agency has begun rolling out greenhouse gas regulations, including proposed standards for new power plants. But the agency has not indicated when it will move ahead with national standards for existing plants. White House-backed emissions-capping legislation, meanwhile, is dead on Capitol Hill.
The GOP-controlled House has passed legislation to block EPA’s rules, but the measure hasn’t advanced in the Senate. Romney opposes cap-and-trade legislation and wants Congress to strip EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases.
While polling consistently shows that the environment lags behind the economy and jobs, healthcare and several other topics among voters’ top concerns, the new data nonetheless suggests that undecided voters will consider climate change when casting their ballots.
According to the Yale-GMU poll, 55 percent of undecided voters say the candidates’ views on climate will be among the several important issues that help guide their vote.
The margin of error among undecided voters in the poll was 11 percent, compared to 5 percent for the likely Obama and Romney voters, owing to the much smaller sample size of people whose votes are up for grabs.
Elsewhere, the new poll finds that 80 percent of undecided voters believe global warming is happening, compared to 86 percent of likely Obama voters and 45 percent of likely Romney voters.
Sixty-five percent of both likely Obama voters and undecided voters say humans are causing global warming, compared to 27 percent of likely Romney voters.
The vast majority of scientists and scientific groups say global warming is occurring and that human activities — including the use of fossil fuels — are a major reason why.
The National Research Council, in a report last year, noted that climate change is “very likely caused primarily” by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, 18 scientific groups — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Meteorological Society — issued a joint statement on the matter. They said that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the “primary driver” of climate change.