The threat of climate change ranks as the most divisive global issue splitting Republicans and Democrats, according to a new poll.

A joint Pew Research Center-USA Today poll of 1,501 adults found that 68 percent of Democratic respondents ranked climate change as a "major threat," compared with 25 percent of Republicans. That 43-point difference was the largest partisan split of nine "threat" areas — the next-widest chasm between the parties was 18 percent.

Democrats ranked climate change as the most pressing global problem facing the U.S., while Republicans find it the least urgent, the poll said.

The GOP split between the party establishment and Tea Party supporters was evident in their views on climate change, the poll showed.

Sixty-two percent of those who agree with the Tea Party said climate change is "not a threat." Of the other Republicans polled, 25 percent said climate change isn't a threat, with 33 percent calling it a major threat.

The survey, conducted over phone between Aug. 20 and Aug. 24, asked respondents about the severity of a number of global threats. In a list of nine issues, climate change finished tied for last with 48 percent viewing it as a major threat. That was the same percentage as China's emergence as a world power and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Republicans said Islamist extremist groups like *al Qaeda posed the greatest threat, at 80 percent.

The other threats were: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; Iran's nuclear program; North Korea's nuclear program; tension between Russia and its neighbors; and the spread of infectious diseases.