Over the last few years, consensus seemed to have coalesced around the presence of global warming: it was real, and politicians from both sides of the aisle--including the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, John McCain--said so.
Now that consensus is slipping, according to new data from the Pew Research Center's last national survey.
While belief in climate change has been in the 70-percent range since 2006, now, only 57 percent of Americans think there is "solid evidence the earth is warming"--a drop of 14 percentage points since April 2008.
The decline in certainty spans party lines, though it's most pronounced among independents--22 percent fewer of whom see evidence of global warming:
At the same time, Americans think climate change is a less serious problem--which makes sense if fewer think it's a problem at all--as 35 percent say it's "very serious," compared to 44 percent in April 2008.
As a result, it would seem like a bad time for Democrats to be selling a comprehensive climate legislation (aka cap-and-trade) that has stalled in the Senate since the House barely passed it in June.
But Pew finds that Americans support cap-and-trade 50 percent to 39 percent, even as the question reminded them that the policy "could lead to higher energy prices."