Americans finally agree on something: Winter was warmer this year
March 19, 2017
• But just one in three attribute warmth to human-caused climate change
• Republicans, Democrats disagree on cause of temperature changes
As Spring officially arrives on Monday across the northern hemisphere, there is agreement among Americans on something: Two out of three think the past winter seemed warmer than usual, according to polling by Gallup Inc.
The 2016-2017 winter season was among the warmest on record across most of the U.S., and many Americans felt it: Nearly two in three (64 percent) say that winter temperatures in their local area were "warmer than usual."
More of them, 35 percent of all Americans, attribute the warmer weather this winter to climate change, than to normal, year-to-year temperature variations (27 percent).
While most Americans report having experienced warmer-than-usual temperatures, 22 percent of Americans say the winter's temperatures were "about the same," while 13 percent say they were "colder than usual."
These data, collected March 1-5 as part of Gallup's annual Environment poll, are similar to what Americans reported in 2016, another winter when most of the country experienced above-average temperatures.
Americans' assessments of winter temperatures, as measured each March for the past six years, have varied. In 2012, 2016 and 2017, the large majority said that temperatures were warmer than usual, while in 2014 and 2015, the view was that temperatures were colder than usual. Views in 2013 were mixed, Gallup says.
Generally, Americans' perceptions of temperature increases have been in line with the departure from January and February's temperature average, as recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says Gallup.
While the Southeast Regional Climate Center found that many cities across the country -- especially in the East -- had one of their warmest winters this season, this was not the case for certain areas in the Northwest, which experienced one of their coldest winters.
This bears out in how Americans living in different regions respond to the question, says Gallup. Large majorities of adults living in the East (82 percent), Midwest (78 percent) and South (73 percent) reported experiencing a warmer than usual winter, but just 21 percent of residents in the West said the same.
Forty percent of Western residents said temperatures in their area were colder than usual and 37 percent said they were about the same.
Party Differences Over the Cause of Warmer Temperatures
Similar percentages of Republicans (61 percent), independents (64 percent) and Democrats (68 percent) say that temperatures were warmer than usual this winter. But these party groups differ over what caused the warmer temperatures.
Democrats are more inclined to attribute warmer temperatures to human-caused climate change, while Republicans generally see them as a result of normal variations in temperature.
“The politicization of this issue is reflected in the reversal of federal policies on climate change under the current Republican president, who is undoing many climate-conscious initiatives of his Democratic predecessor, from rewriting carbon emissions rules to minimizing the role climate change will have in decision-making across the government,” Gallup says.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 1-5, 2017, with a random sample of 1,018 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70 percent cellphone respondents and 30 percent landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.