Voter Behavior Study 8 – Global Warming And 2012 Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney

The 2012 presidential election saw President Barack Obama vying for a second term against the Republican nominee, businessman Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Both candidates had talked about the warming of the Earth and human causation, although Romney over the years had voiced disinterest in spending money against a problem that he said still had many unknowns. (1)

In November, 2012, an Internet survey experiment explored people’s voting preferences in connection with their reactions to statements made by Obama and Romney about global warming.  After watching video footage of the candidates talking about this subject,  respondents were asked their voting intentions, how much they liked the candidates,  their perceptions of the personality traits of the candidates, and the emotions that the candidates evoked.

Based on these video presentations, both candidates gained advantage when they talked about the need to address global warming. However Obama only picked up support when a respondent watched footage solely of him, and no companion video of Romney, while Romney gained even when respondents saw videos of both candidates discussing the topic.

The analysis controlled for other factors people consider when making voting decisions, such as economic progress, pollution and foreign affairs, approval of Obama’s presidency, political affiliation, liberal/conservative ideology, and demographics.

Participants were randomly assigned to six groups that were differentiated by which combination of videos the respondents were shown:

  1. No videos (meaning both Obama and Romney were silent on the issue of global warming).
  2. Romney “green” video only (Romney was “green” and Obama by virtue of not being seen in a video was silent on the issue of global warming).
  3. Romney “not-green” video only (meaning Obama was silent since he was not seen on video).
  4. Obama “green” video only (Obama was “green” and Romney was silent on the issue of global warming).
  5. Obama “green” video and Romney “green” video (both candidates were seen as “green” on global warming).
  6. Obama “green” video and Romney “not-green” video (Obama was “green” and Romney “not-green” on global warming).

After viewing the videos, respondents expressed their electoral attitudes toward the candidates, which was a combination of stated voting intentions, their liking the candidates,  personality trait judgements of the candidates, and their emotional reactions toward the candidates.

In the absence of Mr. Obama’s stance on global warming,  that is, when respondents did not see the Obama “green” video, Mr. Romney’s taking a stance on global warming affected people’s electoral attitudes toward him (see the figure below):

  • People who saw the Romney “green” video had more favorable electoral attitudes toward Romney than people who saw no video of Romney. This was especially true among people who attached high importance to the issue.
  • People who saw the Romney “not-green” video had less favorable electoral attitudes toward Romney than people who saw no video of Romney. This result was most notable with independent voters.

Slide1In the presence of Mr. Obama’s “green” stance on global warming,  that is, when respondents saw a video of Mr. Obama’s making green statements on global warming, Mr. Romney’s position on global warming had an impact on people’s electoral attitudes (see the figure below):

  • Those who saw the Romney “green” video had more favorable electoral attitudes toward Romney than people who saw no video of Romney.
  • People who saw the Romney “not-green” video had the same electoral attitudes toward as people who saw no video of Romney.

Slide2

In the absence of Mr. Romney’s stance on global warming,  that is, when respondents did not see any video of Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama’s green stance on global warming affected people’s electoral attitudes. People who saw the Obama “green” video had more favorable electoral attitudes toward Obama than people who saw no video of Obama (see the figure below).

Slide3In the presence of Mr. Romney’s (green or not-green) stance on global warming,  Mr. Obama’s green stance on global warming had no effect on people’s electoral attitudes (see the following two figures below).

Slide4

Slide5Survey details:

Toluna Corporate conducted interviews with a national sample of 1,492 American adults via the Internet between Nov. 2 and 4, 2012.  The questionnaire was administered in English only.

References

  1. Politifact, May 15, 2012 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/15/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-and-whether-humans-are-causing-climate/

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s