On Thursday at 4 p.m. the Bangor Daily News is hosting the first in a four-event series called Climate Conversations, which will delve into sea level rise in Maine. Our goal is to use these discussions to help Mainers think through how the climate crisis is affecting their communities. You may register for the event here.
An overwhelming majority of Maine voters are concerned about the impacts of climate change, but just how concerned they are largely breaks down along party lines, according to a new Bangor Daily News-Digital Research poll.
The poll of 500 registered Maine voters found that 95 percent of those supporting Democrat Joe Biden in November say they are very or somewhat concerned about climate change, compared with only 53 percent of those supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election. Biden led Trump among all poll respondents 44 percent to 36 percent.
Overall, 77 percent of poll respondents said they were concerned about the impacts of the changing climate, with 47 percent saying they were “very concerned” and 30 percent “somewhat concerned.” Twelve percent said they were “not too concerned,” and 9 percent said they were “not at all concerned.”
When asked how concerned they are about climate change, the largest demographic group to respond that they were “very concerned” were Democratic women over the age of 54 who have college degrees and live in a household that earns between $35,000 and $75,000 a year. Overwhelmingly, those who gave this answer said they prefer Biden over Trump and, in the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Sara Gideon over Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
The 500 poll respondents were split evenly between Maine’s two congressional districts, with 250 living in each one. The poll was conducted between July 29 and Aug. 8 by the Portland firm Digital Research/Critical Insights and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Among the 30 percent who said they were “somewhat concerned,” the largest group represented were men 35 years old and older who have at most a high school education, live in a household that earns less than $35,000 a year, and are not registered with a major political party. Respondents who gave this answer favor Trump over Biden and Collins over Gideon.
People in the 12 percent who said they were “not too concerned” tended to be Republican women above the age of 35 who at most have a high school education and live in a household that earns less than $75,000 a year. This group favored Trump over Biden and Collins over Gideon by wider margins.
Respondents among the 9 percent who said they are “not at all concerned” tended to be Republican men over the age of 54 with at most a high school education who live in a household that earns less than $35,000 a year. Overwhelmingly, respondents who said they are “not at all concerned” about climate change favor Trump over Biden and Collins over Gideon.
When asked if they think climate change already has affected the part of Maine where they live, 39 percent of poll respondents answered “somewhat.” Of the other options, 24 percent said “a great deal,” 20 percent said “a little,” 11 percent said “not at all” and 6 percent said “not sure.”
Those who answered “a great deal” tended to be Democratic women between the ages of 35 and 54 with college degrees, and those who answered “not at all” tended to be Republican men older than 54 with some college education. Those who answered “somewhat” tended to be Democrats older than 34 with varying degrees of education, while those who answered “a little” tended to be Republican voters with at most a high school education.
Nearly half of those polled, 47 percent, said they expect people where they live will be affected by climate change “a great deal” in the next 30 years. Among other answers, 26 percent said they expect they and their neighbors will be affected “somewhat,” 11 percent said “a little,” 9 percent said “not at all” and 7 percent said “not sure.”
Forty percent of respondents said they personally would be willing to make “somewhat” of an effort to reduce their adverse impacts on climate change. Among other responses, 32 percent said they would be willing to do “a great deal” to mitigate their personal impact. Fourteen percent said they’d be willing to do “a little,” 8 percent said they are not willing to change their behavior to mitigate their impact on climate change and 5 percent said they are not sure.