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Americans' Rating of Environment Inches Up to Record High

Americans' Rating of Environment Inches Up to Record High

by Rebecca Riffkin

Story Highlights

  • In U.S., half rate the quality of the environment positively
  • Highest percentage to give positive rating since 2001
  • Reps remain more likely than Dems to give positive rating

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Half of Americans rate the overall quality of the environment as "excellent" or "good," the most positive views of the environment since Gallup began asking this question in 2001.

Views of the Quality of the Environment Highest Since 2001

These results are based on Gallup's 2015 Environment Poll, conducted March 5-8.

The uptick in positive evaluations of the environment is offset by a decline in those rating the environment as "only fair." Forty percent of Americans rate the environment as only fair, down from 44% in 2014 and the lowest percentage found since 2001. At the same time, the 9% rating the quality of the environment as "poor" is similar to what Gallup has found over the past six years.

Americans' ratings of the quality of the environment dropped in 2003 and didn't rise until 2010. From 2003 to 2009, an average of 41% said the quality of the environment was excellent or good, including an all-time low of 39% in 2009. Since then, coincident with the first full years of the Obama administration, the average has been 47%, similar to the levels recorded in 2001 and 2002.

Republicans and Democrats More Positive About Environment

All partisan groups are a bit more positive about the quality of the environment this year than they were in 2014. Republicans consistently have been the most positive of all party groups about the environment, although the gap narrowed significantly in 2008 leading up to the presidential election. The partisan gap has remained narrow throughout Barack Obama's presidency.

Views of the Quality of the Environment -- by Party ID

Americans Remain More Likely to Think Environment Is Getting Worse Than Better

Unlike the improvement seen in Americans' ratings of the environment today, the percentage who say the quality of the environment is "getting better" has been essentially unchanged since 2009.

But similar to the trend in views about the quality of the current environment, Americans during Obama's presidency have been more likely to say the quality of the environment is getting better than they were to say the same during George H.W. Bush's presidency. When Obama entered office in 2009, Americans' outlook on the environment improved, and it has been fairly stable since.

Views of the Outlook of the Environment Stable Since 2009

Republicans are slightly more likely than independents or Democrats to say the environment is getting better. The gap between Republicans and Democrats was much larger prior to 2009, but Democrats -- and to a lesser degree, independents -- became significantly more positive after Obama took office.

Views of the Outlook of the Environment -- by Party ID

Bottom Line

Americans rate the quality of the environment more positively than they have in the 14 years Gallup has been tracking it. Still, Americans remain more likely to believe the environment is getting worse than getting better.

Democrats especially have become more positive about the environment since President Obama took office in 2009. And the president's recent pro-environment actions -- vetoing the Keystone Pipeline and announcing fracking regulations -- are in line with Americans' generally positive ratings of the job Obama is doing to protect the environment.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 5-8, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,025 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% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

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