Everything is political these days. The first-rate interactive map team at the New York Times has put together six maps showing degrees of concern about global warming in different counties and congressional districts in the United States. The maps show a high correlation between Democratic party support and global warming concern—so high that they're not very interesting.
The written commentary, by three reporters, isn't much more illuminating. "Americans want to restrict carbon emissions from coal power plants," the writers announce in large boldface type. "The White House and Congress may do the opposite." The basis for the first assertion is a poll finding 69 percent supporting "strict limits on existing coal-fired power plants." Yes, and 69 percent favor mom's apple pie. Ordinary people's responses to questions on technical regulatory issues are hugely malleable by question wording.
So we get multiple maps showing that people in counties that voted Democratic are more likely to be worried about global warming than people in counties that voted Republican. The writers' efforts to ascribe other reasons for the variance—that people in southeast Florida, for example, may be especially worried about rising sea levels—are unconvincing. No place in the whole state of Florida is more than 345 feet above sea level. Americans -- both Democratic and Republican voters -- seem to respond to these questions according to the way they vote. This partisan response is especially apparent when you ask general questions like whether people are happy with the way things are going in America. Democrats were happy and Republicans morose up until last November 8; it's been the other way around ever since last January 20.
The one possible exception here is the map showing the percentages in each county agreeing that "Global warming will harm me, personally." Not many counties chime in with more than 50 percent agreement. Some are large — Los Angeles, Calif., several counties in the Acela corridor, Miami-Dade, Fla. — but otherwise majority concern is limited to heavily Hispanic counties in South Texas, a couple of Hispanic counties around Santa Fe, and Indian reservations in South Dakota. This map gives you a good idea of why global warming hasn't much clicked as a campaign issue, despite the responses to leading questions in polls.
People's opinions are highly correlated with partisan loyalty, but few feel particularly strongly about it.