Colorado College has released results from its 4th Annual "Conservation in the West" poll, which shows that voters are increasingly considering conservation and environmental issues when making their decisions at the ballot box. From a press release:
This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters across six states looked at voter attitudes on a list of issues, including land use, water supplies, air quality and public lands’ impact on the economy. The results show overwhelming – 85 percent – agreement that when the government closes national parks and other public lands, small businesses and communities' economies in the West suffer. In a follow up message to elected officials and land managers, 83 percent believe funding to national parks, forests and other public lands should not be cut, as it provides a big return on a small investment.
"The Rocky Mountain region is politically diverse, with communities running the spectrum from red (predominantly) to purple to blue,” said Colorado College McHugh Professor of Leadership and American Institutions and regular Colorado political commentator Tom Cronin. “These poll results reinforce that a love for protected lands ties western voters together. Westerners across the political spectrum support the work of public land managers and expect conserved public lands to remain that way."
Other public sentiments expressed in the survey include that:
- 72 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to promote more use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
- 69 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports enhancing protections for some public lands, like national forests.
- 58 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who votes to increase funding for land-managing agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.
The survey also holds warning signs for candidates, including that:
- 72 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports selling public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit.
- 67 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who reduces funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.
- 54 percent of westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to stop taxpayer support for solar and wind energy companies.
Of particular interest is how much conservation and environmental issues tend to have a stronger impact on Hispanic voters, who aren't only interested in the issue of immigration reform. If Colorado Republicans are going to start winning over Hispanic voters, renewable energy, clean air, and clean water is a good place to start.