By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Half of Americans believe the quality of the environment is getting worse, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
Americans' ratings of current environmental quality dipped slightly this year. Forty-four percent now rate its quality as " excellent" or "good", down from 48 percent last year -- which was an all-time high since Gallup began tracking this question in 2001.
Meanwhile, 55 percent of Americans regard current environmental quality as "only fair" or "poor", Gallup said.
Views of environmental quality mainly have been stable over time, and did not show a big change when U.S. President Barack Obama took office in 2009. However, these views have been slightly more positive since 2010 than they were from 2005 to 2009, Gallup found.
Democrats have historically perceived the quality of the environment as worse than Republicans and independents have. But the percentage of Democrats who rate the environment as "excellent " or "good" increased between 2009 and 2010, and has stayed at or above that level since then, Gallup found.
Although Republicans have historically seen the environment in the most positive light, they are less positive now than when George W. Bush was president. In contrast, Democrats and independents rate environmental conditions more positively now than they did during most years under Bush, according to Gallup.
More broadly, Americans are not very concerned about the environment, at least compared with other issues, such as the economy and jobs, Gallup found.
Americans' views of environmental quality in the U.S. generally appear to be linked to their party identification. Even though Republicans and Democrats now have similar opinions regarding the outlook for environmental quality.
Democrats' optimism on this measure has increased dramatically since Obama became president. Independents are also now more optimistic. Republicans' outlook, however, is down at least somewhat from the heights during Bush's first term, Gallup found.