Environmentalists across the country might be surprised to read the results of a study conducted into who spends more protecting the environment when they’re in power—-Republicans and Democrats?
A knee-jerk response from many environmentalists would indicate Republicans. But Energy and Environment News reports a new study shows otherwise.
“Elect a Democratic president, expect less support for environmental spending, according to new research.
The study, published Monday by two sociology professors in the journal Social Forces, found that public support for federal spending to protect the environment declines when there is a Democrat in office. Support drops among both Democrats and Republicans, though the decline is greater in the GOP.
The study is based on data gathered by the General Social Survey, which has conducted opinion polls of more than 20,000 people over a four-decade period. Researchers found support for environmental spending repeatedly dropped under Democratic Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama.
Erik Johnson, one of the authors of the study and a sociology professor at Washington State University, said Republicans express less support for environmental spending during Democratic administrations because they’re concerned about regulatory overreach. He also said that when there is a Democratic president, the Republican partisan affiliation is more “activated” and opposition to Democrats trumps general support for environmental spending.
In short, according to the study, it’s not that Republicans are against protecting the environment — it’s that they tend to toe the party line even if it may go against their personal beliefs.
On the other hand, liberals by default tend to think that because the Democratic Party is usually pro-environment, Democratic administrations have the best interest for the environment at heart.
“When you see a Democratic president in office, there is a sense that environmental issues are going to be attended to, and maybe the biggest concern is overreach,” especially for Republicans, Johnson said.
In contrast, support for environmental spending surges among both parties when a Republican is in office, the study found. Democrats become concerned about the rollback of environmental rules or a lack of aggressive policies. Republican support rises mainly because of party affiliation.
The study also found that President Trump has spurred growing public support for the environment. Trump has rolled back several Obama-era climate policies and appointed senior officials with ties to the coal industry to run EPA.
“Activism around issues of climate and the environment is on a distinct rise, and independent opinion polls support the notion of a substantial rebound in public support for environmental protections since the election of President Trump,” the study says.”