CRF Blog

Interview of the Day: Jon Krosnick

by Bill Hayes

Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times columnist, interviews Jon Krosnick, director of Stanford’s Political Psychology Research Group.

In what way is climate change different?

It’s weird in this regard: About 90% of the passionate are on what you might call the green side. They believe it’s happening, it’s caused by humans, it’s a serious problem, and government should do something about it. That’s unusual in that it allows candidates to win votes by talking about it. Democrats and Republicans will gain votes among independent voters if they take a green position. On most issues, anything a candidate says will annoy about as many people as it pleases, so there’s no net profit.

Many Americans, including people in Washington, do not realize how one-sided the public is on this. If they did, they would change their approach. I’ve been to Capitol Hill to talk to legislators and they’ve said: “You’re doing national surveys. I don’t think the people in my state feel that way.” So we’ve started looking at states and haven’t found a single state where a majority of residents are skeptical, but legislators think they are. West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas — even in those states, large majorities are expressing green points of view. [more]