Framing Science


Global warming and the environment are dead last among the criteria that voters are using to evaluate the presidential candidates, according to a recent Gallup survey.

When asked in an open-ended question “What would you say are the one or two most important reasons why you would vote for [preferred candidate]” or the candidate the respondent might be leaning towards, thirty-seven percent of Obama’s supporters give “change” as the reason for their support. McCain supporters are most likely to explain their vote with references to McCain’s experience and qualifications. As I’ve written before, for the miserly public, it’s often heuristics based on personal characteristics and narrative that matter, rather than the issues.


  1. #1 John McKay
    September 19, 2008

    Everyone says the environment is important to them, but most people will always bump the environment into second place whenever something else comes up. Ask a person what they want in a car and they will put mileage near the top of their list, but when they actually buy a car mileage always loses out to style. I suspect saying is one of those things, like church attendance, that everyone lies about. They aren’t being deceptive (except to themselves); they are describing the person they want to be seen as. They are giving the pollster the “right” answer. Everyone wants to be seen as pious and responsible, but no one is willing to lift a finger to actually be those things.

  2. #2 Clark
    September 19, 2008

    Umm I think given economic developments and then 8 years of George Bush knowing about how in terms of character someone will judge counts a lot. Plus, at least rhetorically, both Obama and McCain agree on global warming. So picking someone smart, for instance, probably is better than focusing on who accepts global warming since (one might assume) it entails accepting global warming.

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