Even before Barack Obama did his Neville Chamberlain impersonation in Copenhagen, Americans had begun to turn on his approach to anthropogenic global warming, and on AGW in general.  In a survey conducted between December 10-13 for the Washington Post and ABC, Obama’s support plummeted on this issue from a 61/23 split in April to 45/39, a 32-point drop in the gap.  And in conducting this survey, WaPo/ABC did a little dishonest question editing that changed the direction of support for government regulation by making it much less specific:

As President Obama arrives in Copenhagen hoping to seal an elusive deal on climate change, his approval rating on dealing with global warming has crumbled at home and there is broad opposition to spending taxpayer money to encourage developing nations to curtail their energy use, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

There’s also rising public doubt and growing political polarization about what scientists have to say on the environment, and a widespread perception that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is happening.

But for all the challenges American policymakers have to overcome, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed say the federal government should regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to curb global warming. Last week the Environmental Protection Agency said it is putting together plans to control the emissions of six gases deemed dangerous to the environment and public.

Support for such a regulation is down 10 percentage points from June, but majorities of Americans remain supportive of such regulations even if they increased monthly bills, so long as they lower greenhouse gas levels. If energy bills jumped $10 a month, 60 percent back new limits; at $25 a month, it’s 55 percent.

Is it?  The question changed from the surveys taken in the past in a subtle but significant manner.  Look at the difference between the two:

Previous Polls

23. (HALF SAMPLE) What if a cap and trade program significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly electrical bill by 25 dollars a month – in that case would you support or oppose it?

     Support   Oppose   No opinion
8/17/09     39        59          1
6/21/09     44        54          1
7/28/08     47        51          2

This weeks poll

28. (HALF SAMPLE) What if that significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly energy expenses by 25 dollars a month – in that case, do you think the government should or should not regulate the release of greenhouse gases?

           Should   Should not   No opinion
12/13/09     55         42            3

What’s missing now? The mention of the cap-and-trade bill. This makes a comparison problematic, and it most definitely doesn’t answer whether the public supports any kind of cap-and-trade legislation currently in Congress.  And since skepticism on AGW has returned to its highest point in years, that seems to be a strange change indeed:

32. Do you think (most scientists agree with one another) about whether or not global warming is happening, or do you think (there is a lot of disagreement among scientists) on this issue?

Most agree A lot of disagreement No opinion
12/13/09 36 62 2
7/28/08 39 57 4
4/10/07 40 56 3
3/14/06 35 64 1
2/13/98 30 67 3
10/5/97 35 62 3

The administration is losing its battle to maintain the pretense of a consensus on AGW. Imagine what would have happened if the media had reported on Climategate to anywhere near the extent they did with, oh, Sarah Palin’s headband.