Erik Johnson.

WSU sociology professor Erik Johnson has what looks like a surefire way to hurt support for government spending to protect the environment: Elect a Democratic president.

While the finding may seem counterintuitive, Johnson said Democratic administrations appear to mobilize Republican opposition that is less volatile when the GOP controls the White House.

Johnson teased apart the opinions of more than 20,000 people over more than four decades and saw that support for environmental spending consistently plummeted during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats all.

Johnson made his discovery using a statistical analysis that looked at poll respondents in terms of their age, the time period in which they were surveyed and the cohort of similarly aged people. Support for environmental spending consistently declines as people get older and one’s cohort has only a modest effect on his or her environmental views. But one’s relative support for the environment changes dramatically depending on which party is in the White House.

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