This corresponds with my own experiences and observations:
This implies that if the tables were turned — if Republican politicians proposed a climate policy — Republican voters might support it. In our research, that is exactly what we have found.
In one study, we asked Democrats, Republicans and independents to consider one of two carbon-pricing policies: a national cap-and-trade program and a national revenue-neutral carbon tax. But we varied the information we gave about political support for the policies, sometimes saying that a policy was backed by Democratic members of Congress, and sometimes saying that it was backed by Republican members.
In a similar study, we asked Democrats, Republicans and independents in Washington State to consider a carbon tax that was on the ballot in their state in 2016. There, we mentioned either liberal Democrats (like the Green Party of Seattle) or conservative Republicans (like the former secretary of state George Shultz) who in fact supported the initiative.
I wouldn’t say that they necessarily do believe in climate change, but rather that they could believe in it, and relatively easily. It would take some leadership that (a) the right’s leaders haven’t been inclined to show and (b) that they have little incentive to show, almost no upside, and quite a bit of downside.
A lot of people have come to where they currently are on the issue because it’s actually an easier posture to say that climate change isn’t real – or is in serious doubt – than to agree that it is real but disagree on what and how much should be done about it which ends up categorizing you with the doubters anyway.