For politicians of either party thirsting for the Independent vote, favoring action on climate change would appear to be a good idea, Leiserowitz explained. Only 3 percent of Independents do not believe that climate change is happening, with fully 43 percent say they will vote based on the issue. The remaining 54 percent are unsure or won't base their vote on the issue.
That compares with 9 percent of Republicans who said don't believe global warming is happening or vote accordingly, a whopping 68 percent of Republicans who are not sure, and 24 percent who believe global warming is real.
Among the politicians probably benefiting from public opinion is Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. Inslee was elected while being conspicuously vocal about climate change and even coauthoring a book on the promise of clean energy.
"Every ton of coal that is burned anywhere on the planet Earth ends up in Puget Sound," said Gov. Inslee at a recent meeting with the press in Olympia, Wash. When asked about the negative effects of ocean acidification -- caused by the burning of fossil fuels worldwide -- to the state's shellfish industry, he said, "This is not only about the polar bears. It is about business opportunities in our state that are today being damaged."
The survey also underscores the large segment of people still on the fence about climate change, which is a matter of concern, said Mark McCaffrey, who works on climate change policy matters for the Nation Center for Science Education.
"The thing that really pops out at us is the fact that people are not understanding the basics," McCaffrey said. "This points to the need for a national effort to educate people."
The study can be found at Benefits to Taking a Pro-Climate Stand in 2013.