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Most Mass. Voters Say Climate Change Is Bringing More Frequent Or Severe Storms

Floodwater rises in Marshfield during the nor'easter on March 13, 2018. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Floodwater rises in Marshfield during the nor'easter on March 13, 2018. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

As yet another nor'easter bears down on the region — the fourth this month — two-thirds of Massachusetts voters say climate change is bringing more frequent or severe storms to the state.

Sixty-five percent of voters say climate change is affecting storms, according to a new WBUR poll (topline results, crosstabs), while a quarter of voters say it's not having an effect.

As with much climate polling these days, the WBUR survey question features a large partisan gap. Seventy-eight percent of Democrats say climate change is bringing more frequent or severe storms to Massachusetts, while only 34 percent of Republicans agree. Among unenrolled voters -- who make up a majority of poll respondents -- 63 percent say climate change is affecting storms here.

Scientists have linked the severity of snowstorms to the changing climate. (NOAA: "Conditions that influence the severity of eastern U.S. snowstorms include warmer-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the Atlantic.") Additionally, sea levels in Boston have risen nearly a foot over the last century, and higher sea levels are likely to exacerbate coastal flooding.

The WBUR survey comes as the quartet of March storms — and one in January — have heightened concern in Massachusetts about the state's climate resiliency.

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker stood in coastal Scituate, which experienced flooding during the recent storms, to announce a climate resiliency bond bill.

Nearly half of WBUR poll respondents — 47 percent — say the state is "somewhat prepared" to deal with the effects of climate change. But just 6 percent say Massachusetts is "very prepared" and, at the other end of the spectrum, 17 percent say the state is "not at all prepared" to deal with climate change's effects.

On the survey's third climate question, 63 percent of voters say climate change's effects have already begun to happen. That's largely in line with previous WBUR polls over seven years, though below the 69 percent who said the same in the last survey, conducted in mid-2017.

But again, there's a distinct political divide. Seventy-one percent of Democratic voters say climate change's effects have already begun to happen, compared with just 43 percent of GOP poll respondents.

The live telephone survey of 504 registered voters, from MassINC Polling Group, was conducted Friday through Sunday. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

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Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital manager. He occasionally reports about economic and transportation policy, social issues and politics.

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