Category: Public Opinion

Resource Category Topic Type
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
Public Awareness of Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Is Rising
Among scientists who study the Earth’s climate, there is overwhelming agreement that humans are causing rapid change.1 Surveys find that the U.S. public underestimates the extent to which scientists agree on this point,2 but public awareness is gradually rising (Figure 1).
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Public Opinion Publication
Public Knowledge About Polar Regions Increases While Concerns Remain Unchanged
The authors of this brief conduct the first comparative analysis of the polar questions that were part of the National Opinion Research Center's 2006 and 2010 General Social Survey. Developed by scientists at the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, these questions covered topics such as climate change, melting ice and rising sea levels, and species extinction.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Public Perceptions of Environmental Management in the Puget Sound Region
Using data from a phone survey of 1,980 Puget Sound residents conducted in 2012, this fact sheet describes public perceptions of different environmental interventions. Puget Sound residents widely support a range of proposed interventions designed to protect and restore the marine environment.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Race, Class, and Community in a Southern Forest-Dependent Region
Based on a Community and Environment in Rural America survey, this brief looks at four counties in Alabama. It finds blacks and whites have different outcomes in the community, despite expectations of regional stability and greater equality. Though they reported similar rates of social mobility, African Americans in the "Black Belt" of Alabama are disproportionately poorer and employed in lower-skill jobs than whites.
Vulnerable Families Research Program African Americans, Community, Public Opinion, Race, Rural Publication
Religion, Politics, and the Environment in Rural America
Reflecting the heterogeneous nature of rural America, rural Americans are divided primarily along religious lines on their perspectives of environmental conservation and climate change. And as rural voters and environmental issues become key issues in the upcoming presidential election, this religious divide presents a challenge to political candidates.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Religion, Rural Publication
Rural Natives’ Perceptions of Strengths and Challenges in Their Communities
This brief uses two sources of data to explore how Native Americans view the current socioeconomic and environmental state of their communities and their future within them—the Community and Environment in Rural America (CERA) surveys and focus groups with Native leaders in one rural state.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Public Opinion Publication
Social Connections, Safety, and Local Environment in Three Manchester, New Hampshire, Neighborhoods
This fact sheet uses data from a survey of Bakersville, Beech Street, and Gossler Park residents in Manchester, New Hampshire, to draw attention to the current state of connectedness, trust, and perceptions of the local environment in these three neighborhoods.
New Hampshire Community, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
Social Impact of the Gulf Oil Disaster: Diverging Views From Communities in Florida and Louisiana
Carsey researchers surveyed over two thousand residents of the Gulf Coast following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in 2010 to analyze their perception of the spill. Nearly one-half of all Gulf Coast residents perceived damage to the environment and wildlife as the most serious result of the oil spill. Perceptions regarding the impact of the spill reflect the different relationships to the oil economy in the two states--”Floridians are most concerned about effects on tourism and Louisianans on the fishing and oil industries. Louisianans were more than twice as likely as Floridians to think that their state and local governments were doing an excellent job responding to the spill, though this does not account for differences in government responses. Approximately three-fourths of Gulf Coast residents thought that the federal government was doing a poor or fair job responding. The most trusted source of information about the spill for all respondents was scientists. Environmental organizations were the second most trusted source. Network TV news, BP, and websites or blogs were the least trusted sources of information. This brief examines the impact of the spill on Gulf Coast residents and provides important insights that can inform disaster relief efforts in the future to better meet the needs of those affected.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Southeastern Kentuckians Remain Optimistic Through Great Recession: Growing Concerns about Sprawl, Housing, and Recreational Opportunities
In May and June of 2007, Carsey Institute researchers surveyed 1,000 randomly selected respondents from Kentucky’s Harlan and Letcher counties, and between November 2010 and January 2011, they returned to survey 1,020 different randomly selected respondents from the same counties. These two Kentucky counties provide a snapshot of perceptions of community and environmental change in a chronically poor rural place. This brief focuses on the questions asked in both surveys to identify area wide (Harlan and Letcher counties combined) changes since the Great Recession. The surveys reveal that the recession has exacerbated concern about many community-level problems including poverty, affordable housing, sprawl, and a lack of recreational opportunities. Southeastern Kentuckians’ views regarding how environmental resources should be used have also changed. As the demand for jobs has increased, Harlan and Letcher county residents are more likely to believe that natural resources should be used for economic development rather than conserved for the future. Optimism about the future is unchanged despite growing financial instability during the recession. Author Jessica Ulrich concludes that as local, state, and federal government program budgets are cut, and poverty and unemployment rates rise, southeastern Kentuckians will need to increasingly rely on the support of other community members. She adds, “If communities keep faith that they can work together to solve pressing problems and obtain the social, human, and economic resources that they desperately need, then perhaps Harlan and Letcher counties can begin to escape from the persistent poverty that has been plaguing them for decades.”
Vulnerable Families Research Program Community, Economic Development, Housing, Poverty, Public Opinion Publication
The Slow Dawn of Climate-Change Awareness, and Its Challenge for a Sustainable Planet
In this perspectives brief, author Larry Hamilton summarizes his research on public perceptions of climate change, drawing on a decade of nationwide and New Hampshire surveys.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
The State of Coös County: Local Perspectives on Community and Change
Coös County residents are largely optimistic about their future despite significant economic challenges, especially in the Berlin/Gorham area. As part of a three-pronged effort to understand the ongoing changes in New Hampshire's North Country and surrounding counties, researchers at the Carsey Institute have surveyed more than 1,700 adult residents of Coös County, New Hampshire, and Oxford County, Maine.
New Hampshire Community, Community Development, Coös Youth Study, Economic Development, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
The Zika Virus Threat
Shocking images of infants with severe birth defects in Brazil introduced the world to the devastating effects of the Zika virus. This mosquito-borne illness spread rapidly across Latin America and into the United States. News stories highlighting locally transmitted cases of Zika in Florida, and most recently in Texas, created a sense of urgency among public health officials. They stepped up efforts to inform the public about the transmission of the virus as well as the health risks associated with Zika. Public polling shows that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of Zika, and they question the government’s ability to limit its spread.1 What is less clear are the factors influencing perceptions of the Zika pandemic and support for governmental efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Using data from the October 2016 Granite State Poll (GSP), we investigate how New Hampshire residents view the Zika crisis by asking the following questions: Is Zika perceived as a threat to public health in the United States? Does the public trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information about the virus? Is the public confident that the government can control the spread of Zika? Should the U.S. Congress prioritize emergency funding to combat Zika? Finally, we explore whether the public’s increasing distrust of science and scientists may affect views about the Zika pandemic. Results indicate that most New Hampshire residents believe Zika is only a minor threat to public health in the United States, and they generally trust the CDC as a source of information about the virus. These data also show that, while there is doubt about the government’s ability to control the spread of the virus, the public feels that emergency federal funding to combat Zika should be a priority. Finally, we found that many Granite Staters have real concerns about the practice of science, believing scientists change their findings to get the answers they want. More importantly, individuals who questioned the integrity of scientists are less likely to believe Zika is a threat, have confidence in the government’s ability to combat the virus, trust the CDC, and to prioritize emergency funding. These results suggest that health officials working to engage the public in efforts to control the spread of Zika must not only discuss risks associated with the virus and mechanisms of transmission, but also confront science skepticism and potential concerns about the integrity of the scientists gathering data related to Zika and other infectious diseases.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Health, New Hampshire, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Trump and Sanders Supporters Differ Sharply on Key Scientific Fact
During the week of September 17–23, a WMUR/CNN poll by the UNH Survey Center1 asked more than 700 New Hampshire residents who they would vote for, given hypothetical pairs of candidates. For example, Suppose the 2016 presidential election was being held today and the candidates were Donald Trump, the Republican, and Bernie Sanders, the Democrat, who would you vote for? Other pairings in the poll were Trump vs. Clinton, or Trump vs. Biden. In the Trump/Sanders matchup, the poll found Sanders leading by 57 to 37 percent, with 6 percent saying another candidate or undecided.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Trusting Scientists More Than the Government
In this brief, authors Lawrence Hamilton and Thomas Safford report that despite a dramatic increase in the incidence of COVID-19, and an evolving government response, there was no significant change between surveys taken in mid-March and mid-April in the shares of New Hampshire residents who reported they were making “major changes” in their daily routines, had low confidence in the federal government’s response, or expressed trust in information from science agencies.
COVID-19, New Hampshire COVID-19, Health, New Hampshire, Public Opinion, Trust Publication