Houston hadn’t even begun to wring itself out from Hurricane Harvey when Irma, now the most powerful storm on record in the Atlantic, began churning towards the Caribbean. Before Irma finished laying waste to the islands, Hurricane Jose lined up behind on a similar track. While it is not expected to follow Irma to Florida, it appears likely to hit some of the same islands. It’s also now a Category 4 storm. Meanwhile, Category 2 Hurricane Katia churns in the gulf right off the coast of Mexico.
L-R: Katia, Irma, Jose. Credit: CIRA RAMMB
Once-in-a-century weather events are now happening with regularity, and scientists say warming seas are supercharging storms. It’s hard to say climate change is causing these storms, but it appears to be making them worse. As usual with climate change issues, voters are not on the same page and there is a sharp partisan divide. A HuffPost/YouGov poll post-Harvey found a plurality thought climate change played a role in the Texas flooding including 77 percent of Clinton voters. About a third thought it played a not very important role or no role at all, including 76 percent of Trump voters.
Closer to home, voters are eyeing the local impacts of climate change with increasing alarm. A WBUR poll from this summer found 82 percent of voters say they are concerned that Massachusetts will experience more severe storms in the next 10 years because of climate change. Almost as many expect sea level rise and coastal flooding over the same period.
The idea of a warming planet is now almost universally accepted among the state’s voters. And for the first time, over two thirds say we are already feeling the effects of global warming. Each of these figures has grown considerably since prior polls conducted over the last 6 years.
The WBUR poll was conducted before these hurricanes, so these figures may have changed further given the constant stream of alarming news stories. But even then, Massachusetts voters perceived the growing risk of climate change; 40 percent said global warming poses an even greater long term threat to the United States than terrorism. Future polls will tell us whether these storms make climate change seem like even more of a threat.
National polling shows a similar trajectory. A March Gallup poll shows concern over climate change in the U.S. is at a three-decade high. An April Quinnipiac poll finds 66 percent of Americans are very or somewhat concerned climate change will affect them or a family member personally. 56 percent say there has been more extreme or unusual weather in recent years.
So as Houston dries out and Floridians clear out, residents of Boston and other coastal cities are left wondering if they will be next.
HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy writes about a new crack in Donald Trump’s base: Obama voters who voted for Trump are much more likely to now regret their votes.
In an unexpected twist, President Trump sided with the Democrats in a vote to raise the debt ceiling through December. FiveThirtyEight’s Congress Tracker has the vote breakdown, while a HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that a majority of Trump voters would side with Trump over the congressional GOP.
Despite the conflicting messages about DACA’s future, the program remains popular with voters. An NBC/SurveyMonkey poll released days before the Trump administration announced it would rescind the program found 64 percent of Americans support it. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 58 percent think so-called “Dreamers” should be allowed to stay, and under certain qualifications become citizens. YouGov finds that 57 percent of Trump voters want the program ended.
Sixty-four percent of Americans think immigration strengthens the United States, but there is a large partisan split.
Football season has started; sorry Pats fans! A Washington Post/ UMass Lowell poll finds that among people whose interest in football has declined, the most common cause is protests during the national anthem.
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Say what you will about Twitter — harassment swamp, giant timesuck, potential spark for nuclear war — but it has provided political and social science researchers with a wealth of new information. A study out this week looked at over half a million tweets about gun control, same-sex marriage, and climate change, and found that tweets that contained “moral-emotional” language were more likely to spread through social networks, but only among like-minded folks, as shown in the graph below. As one Twitter wag observed, maybe retweets really do equal endorsements.