Category: Public Opinion

Resource Category Topic Type
Beliefs about Development Versus Environmental Tradeoffs in the Puget Sound Region
Using data from a phone survey of 1,980 Puget Sound residents conducted in 2012, this fact sheet outlines residents’ views about the importance of environmental protection as well as their opinions about energy development, protection of wild salmon, and land use regulation.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community Development, Economic Development, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Challenge and Hope in the North Country
Hit hard by the national decline in natural-resource and manufacturing jobs, North Country communities in northern New Hampshire and bordering areas of Maine and Vermont (Figure 1) continue to face challenges in restructuring their economies.1 A 2008 study classified Coös County, New Hampshire, and Oxford County, Maine, as “amenity/decline” regions, a common pattern in rural America where historically resource-dependent places experience decline in their traditional industries, even while natural amenities present new opportunities for growth in areas such as tourism or amenity-based in-migration. Complicating this transition, there is often out-migration of young adults seeking jobs and financial stability elsewhere, as new industries in rural areas tend toward seasonal employment or require different kinds of skills.2 In this brief, we report on a 2017 survey that asked North Country residents about their perceptions, hopes, and concerns regarding this region. Many of the same questions had been asked on earlier surveys in 2007 and 2010, providing a unique comparative perspective on what has changed or stayed much the same.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Community, Economic Development, Migration, New Hampshire, Public Opinion, Rural, Unemployment Publication
Climate Change: Partisanship, Understanding, and Public Opinion
In 2010, Carsey Institute researchers began including three new questions about climate change on a series of regional surveys. They asked how much people understand about the issue of global warming or climate change; whether they think that most scientists agree that climate change is happening now as a result of human activities; and what they believe personally about the topic. Survey results show that while large majorities agree that climate change is happening now, they split on whether this is attributed mainly to human or natural causes. Brief author Lawrence Hamilton concludes that most people gather information about climate change not directly from scientists but indirectly—through news media, political activists, acquaintances, and other non-science sources. Their understanding reflects not simply scientific knowledge, but rather the adoption of views promoted by political or opinion leaders they follow. While public beliefs about physical reality remain strikingly politicized, leading science organizations agree that human activities are now changing the Earth’s climate. Interestingly, the strong scientific agreement on this point contrasts with the partisan disagreement seen on all of the Carsey surveys.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Civic Attitudes, Climate Change, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Conservative and Liberal Views of Science
Conservative distrust of scientists regarding climate change and evolution has been widely expressed in public pronouncements and surveys, contributing to impressions that conservatives are less likely to trust scientists in general. But what about other topics, where some liberals have expressed misgivings too? Nuclear power safety, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are three often-mentioned examples. For this report, five similarly worded survey questions were designed to test the hypothesis that, depending on the issue, liberals are just as likely to reject science as conservatives. The five questions were included along with many unrelated items in telephone surveys of over 1,000 New Hampshire residents. As expected, liberals were most likely and conservatives least likely to say that they trust scientists for information about climate change or evolution. Contrary to the topic-bias hypothesis, however, liberals also were most likely and conservatives least likely to trust scientists for information about vaccines, nuclear power safety, and GMOs. Liberal–conservative gaps on these questions ranged from 55 points (climate change) to 24 points (nuclear power), but always in the same direction. These results pose a challenge for some common explanations of political polarization in views about science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Continuity and Change in Coos County Results from the 2010 North Country CERA Survey
This brief from Chris Colocousis and Justin Young uses the most recent North Country CERA survey to focus on change and continuity in Coos County between 2007 and 2010, and then makes comparisons of the present conditions across the three study counties. The authors examine such topics as community problems, environmental and economic concerns, and community cohesion and confidence in the local government. They report that Coos County residents remain highly concerned about the lack of economic opportunities in the region, and their concern about population decline has increased in recent years. Coos residents see the economic future of their communities primarily tied to both recreation and traditional forest-based industries, though they have become somewhat more polarized with respect to levels of support for economic development versus environmental protection. The authors conclude that challenges stemming from the economic restructuring of the past decade have been deepened by the most recent recession, and issues of limited economic opportunities, financial hardship, and population decline have become more pronounced. As the North Country moves into the future, one of its primary challenges will be working out a balance between what can sometimes be conflicting demands on the region’s substantial natural resources.
New Hampshire Community, Economic Development, Environment, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
Data Snapshot: Public Acceptance of Human-Caused Climate Change Is Gradually Rising
Have recent extreme weather events in the United States shifted public opinion on climate change? In late summer and fall 2017, disaster headlines were common. Hurricanes caused damage along the Gulf Coast, and brought devastation to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The West experienced severe wildfires, with 2 million acres aflame at one point. Although attributing particular events to climate change is difficult, scientists have noted that such extremes are becoming increasingly frequent as climate warms.1
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Data Snapshot: “Trump Towns” Swung Democratic in New Hampshire Midterms
New Hampshire municipalities with fewer college-educated residents, which generally offered strong support for Donald Trump two years ago, swung toward the opposing party in the 2018 midterms.
Demography, New Hampshire Civic Attitudes, Demography, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do Scientists Agree about Climate Change? Public Perceptions from a New Hampshire Survey
This report, a collaboration of the Carsey Institute, the UNH Survey Center, and the UNH Office of Sustainability, is the first of a new initiative that will track public perceptions about climate change as they change over time. Questions related to climate change were asked as part of New Hampshire's Granite State Poll, which surveyed 512 New Hampshire residents in April 2010.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Believe the Climate Is Changing? Answers From New Survey Research
This brief explores how political views influence Americans’ understanding and perception of science. The research is based on a national version of the Community and Environment in Rural America survey called NCERA, and on New Hampshire’s statewide Granite State Poll.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Trust Scientists About the Environment?
In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton examines the results of a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in late January–early February 2014. The poll asked about public trust in scientists, along with other questions on science, political, and social issues that help to place the science-trust results in perspective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Education in Chronically Poor Rural Areas Lags Across Generations
As part of the Community and Environment in Rural America (CERA) initiative, the Carsey Institute has been investigating broad trends between rural community types, including the education level of residents and their parents. Since 2007, Carsey researchers have conducted over 17,000 telephone surveys with randomly selected adult Americans from twelve diverse rural locations to ask about both their own and their parents’ educational attainment, as well as their perceptions of school quality in their communities. Survey results conclude that educational achievement varies significantly by type of place in rural America. In chronically poor rural areas, 45 percent of residents have completed only high school or less, compared with 22 to 33 percent in amenity-rich, amenity-transition, and declining resource-dependent rural areas. Although people from all types of rural communities generally have more education than their parents, those in chronically poor rural areas still have relatively low education levels — a disadvantage that persists across generations. This brief highlights the need to invest in the educational systems of chronically poor rural areas where generations of underinvestment have contributed to persistent poverty.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Public Opinion, Rural Publication
Forest Views
Residents of northeast Oregon were surveyed by telephone in an effort to assess individual perceptions of forests and natural resource management. Results show that residents are generally well informed about declining forest health, and they identify active forest management as a high priority. Just over half of residents support increasing public land use fees to pay for forest restoration activities, while only a minority support raising local taxes. Thus, creative policy solutions are likely needed to address the forest restoration funding gap. Residents were nearly unanimous in their belief that natural resources can be preserved for future generations and at the same time used to create jobs. Compared to a similar survey in 2011, a larger proportion of participants in 2014 prioritize renewable energy development over drilling and exploration for oil, an increasing percentage believe that environmental rules limiting development have been good for their communities, and fewer support the elimination of wolves. These shifts in public opinion appear to be due to changes in perceptions among longtime residents, rather than demographic changes, and suggest that communities may be more receptive to regulations and programs that address ecological restoration and stewardship goals, as well as climate change impacts.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Forests, Public Opinion Publication
Granite Staters Weigh in on Renewable Energy Versus Drilling: Environmental Quality of Life Ranks High Across Party Lines
Since the fall of 2001, the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center has been conducting the Granite State Poll—a statewide, scientific survey of public opinion and behavior concerning policy issues—via telephone interviews with random samples of New Hampshire residents about four times each year.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
How Yoopers See the Future of their Communities: Why Residents Leave or Stay in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
According to a Community and Environment in Rural America survey, Michigan's Upper Peninsula residents, often called "Yoopers," said that ties to community and the area's natural beauty were significant factors for those who planned on staying in this rural area, which comprises about a third of Michigan's land mass but only 4 percent of its population. Those planning on leaving cited employment opportunities and energy costs as the most important factors in their decision.
Demography Community, Demography, Environment, Public Opinion, Rural Publication
Is New Hampshire's Climate Warming?
This Carsey brief looks at temperature anomalies across New Hampshire and shows that not only is the state warmer than it has been in the past, but it is also warming faster than much of the planet. Sociologist Lawrence Hamilton, research associate professor Cameron Wake, and former NH state climatologist Barry Keim analyzed over 100 years of temperatures across the state to produce this data for the Carsey Institute in August 2010.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
Jobs, Natural Resources, and Community Resilience: A Survey of Southeast Alaskans about Social and Environmental Change
As part of the Community and Environment in Rural America (CERA) project, researchers at the Carsey Institute surveyed 1,541 residents of the ten boroughs and unincorporated census areas in Southeast Alaska to better understand social and environmental change in the region and their implications for Alaskan community and families. The authors of this brief report that social problems in the extremely isolated region of Southeast Alaska such as crime and drug use are closely related to economic distress, particularly in small outlying communities. They suggest that economic development interventions should be paired with social assistance to address these interrelated problems. Natural resource industries are highly valued, and supporting sustainable expansion of these industries will be critical in the future. Residents highly value the natural and cultural character of the region. Southeast Alaska’s natural assets and strong social capital suggest that residents can collaborate to address social and environmental concerns. Trust and confidence in government is low. However, increasing local engagement may help bridge this divide and encourage public-private partnerships and more cooperative relationships. With its rising energy costs and limited access to high-quality foods, national programs that increase access to affordable energy and quality foods should focus on this region. Significant economic and social challenges can make life in Southeast Alaska a challenge, yet residents remain resilient and optimistic about the future of their communities.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community, Economic Development, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Ocean Views: Coastal Environmental Problems as Seen by Downeast Maine Residents
This brief contends that loss of fishing jobs and income is the top environment-related concern among residents of Maine's Hancock and Washington counties, as well as forestry decline and water pollution. Also of note, across a wide range of environmental issues, political party affiliation is associated with level of concern about environmental problems.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, New England, Public Opinion, Rural Publication
On Renewable Energy and Climate, Trump Voters Stand Apart
Globally, 2016 was the warmest year on record, surpassing records set in 2015 and 2014,1 and each new record emphasizes the longer-term upward trend. Though not every place on Earth experienced warming effects last year, they were quite evident in many areas. Rising South Pacific sea temperatures caused the largest die-off ever recorded of the coral that composes Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reached record lows for several months of the year. Among scientists looking at such data, there is overwhelming agreement that human activities are shifting Earth’s climate in hazardous directions, and urgent actions are needed to slow this down.2 Among U.S. politicians and the public, however, there remain wide divisions on whether human-caused climate change is real, whether scientists agree, and whether anything should be done.3 Though climate change received little media attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, recent surveys indicate that climate change and related energy issues are taken seriously by a growing majority of the public. An example is shown in Figure 1, which charts responses to climate-change and renewable-energy questions from a post-election Polar, Environment, and Science (POLES) survey carried out by Carsey School researchers in November–December 2016. The sample comprised 707 adults from all 50 states.4
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Energy, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Paid Family and Medical Leave in New Hampshire
Life events such as an illness, the birth of a child, or a parent’s need for care require workers to take extended time away from their jobs. The aging of the New Hampshire population and the rise of women in the labor force mean that more workers in the state are likely to need extended time away from work to provide family care. But taking the leave often means loss of pay or even loss of a job. Access to paid family and medical leave is uneven in New Hampshire. Neither the federal government nor New Hampshire have a paid family and medical leave law or program, thus access to leave depends on whether it is included as a benefit offered by one’s employer. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows certain workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid—but job-protected—leave to tend to a serious health condition or to care for a new child or a seriously ill relative within a 12-month period. To be eligible for FMLA, employees must work for an employer with 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius and have worked 1,250 hours for the same employer over the previous year.1 Nationally, about 41 percent of employees are not covered by FMLA. In New Hampshire, 10 percent of firms employing fewer than 10 employees provided paid family care leave in 2011; among businesses employing 250 or more employees, 30 percent provided paid family care leave.2 Many men face stigma for taking leave, as cultural and workplace attitudes typically view men as breadwinners and women as caregivers.3 Indeed, in New Hampshire, women are more likely to take family and medical leave (paid or unpaid), yet they are less likely to have access to the benefit, according to 2016 Granite State Poll data. Furthermore, workers with the lowest family income lack access to paid leave. The current system, reliant on employer-provided paid leave and unpaid FMLA, is fragmented and unequal, with some workers having access to generous paid leave benefits and others either cobbling together paid and unpaid leave, leaving the labor force, or not providing the needed family care.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
Place Matters Challenges and Opportunities in Four Rural Americas
A survey of 7,800 rural Americans in 19 counties across the country has led to the Carsey Institute's first major publication that outlines four distinctly different rural Americas—amenity, decline, chronic poverty, and those communities in decline that are also amenity-rich—each has unique challenges in this modern era that will require different policies than their rural neighbors.
Demography, Vulnerable Families Research Program Demography, Environment, Housing, Public Opinion, Race Publication