SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The issue of climate change continues to divide voters along party lines, but most Americans do not give President Donald Trump high marks when it comes to his record on the environment, according to a CBS poll released Monday.
The poll found 36% of American voters think Trump is doing an “excellent” or “good” job on the environment, compared to 63% who rate his environmental record as “fair” or “poor.”
The low marks come despite Trump’s recent efforts to frame his administration’s eco-policies in a more flattering light. After skipping a climate meeting at the G-7 summit in France last month, Trump told reporters he is “an environmentalist.” In July, the president gave a 45-minute speech on the environment, in which he said his administration will “fight for a cleaner environment.” He did not mention climate change during that speech.
Numbers such as those in the CBS poll might make some Democratic party strategists smile, but the proportion of voters who rank climate change as an essential issue is more likely stir disappointment.
Less than half of voters (45%) identify climate change as a very important issue, according to the poll of 2,143 U.S. residents surveyed between Sept. 6 and Sept. 10.
An even lower proportion of independent voters (39%) consider the planet-warming dilemma to be a key policy matter for the upcoming election.
Responses among Democratic and Republican voters show where each party’s faithful stands on the most hot-button environmental issue of our time, with 72% of Democrats ranking climate change as very important compared to 20% of Republicans.
For Democrats, climate change comes second only to health care on their list of policy priorities. For Republicans, it falls to fifth place, below the number-one subject of immigration, and after other key issues, including the economy, health care and gun policy.
The divide between the left and right remains just as stark when it comes to voters’ attitudes toward candidates’ views on climate change.
Twenty-seven percent of Democrats say a candidate must share their views on climate change compared to 17% of Republicans. Among Republicans, 47% say a candidate’s views on climate change will not matter much, compared to just 13% of Democrats who say the same.
Over the last three years, the Trump administration has pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Accords, weakened car emissions standards and reversed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
One of Trump’s earliest executive orders, issued in March 2017, directed federal agencies to eliminate regulations that “unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”
According to the White House website, the Trump administration believes American energy policy “must balance environmental protection with economic growth in order to encourage innovation, discovery, and prosperity.”
The CBS poll, conducted by YouGov, is part of Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of more than 250 news outlets across the globe providing in-depth coverage on climate science and policy. The margin of error is 2.2 points.