New Survey: Conservation Could Impact 2014’s Ballot Box

February 13, 2014

Conservation and land use issues could have the power to sway how western Hispanics vote in 2014 elections, according to the new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll.

“The West is a major political battlefield this year, and the poll tells us congressional candidates would be wise to consider their position on conservation and land use issues carefully,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Westerners want their air, water and land protected, and where a candidate stands on these issues could potentially sway votes.”

This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters — 14 percent of which were Hispanic — 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 77 percent of Hispanics feel that the government restricting access to national parks and public lands hurt small businesses and communities’ economies in the West. In a follow up message to elected officials and land managers, 84 percent of Hispanics 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:

  • 78 percent of Hispanics, compared to 72 percent of all Westerners, are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to promote more use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
  • 64 percent of Hispanics are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports enhancing protections for some public lands, like national forests.
  • 60 percent of Hispanics 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:

  • 70 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports selling public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit.
  • 62 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who reduces funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.
  • 50 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to stop taxpayer support for solar and wind energy companies.

“Hispanics view the protection of our public lands as a moral obligation. It’s natural that this community would be drawn to candidates who support conservation,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation. “With the tremendous growth of the Latino voter bloc, especially in the Western states, we’re going to see engagement in environmental policy and advocacy for our public lands at levels we’ve never seen before.”

The results reflect the strong connection Hispanics feel to their public lands, with 95 percent saying they have visited public lands in the last year. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they would recommend an out-of-state visitor visit the outdoors, like a national park, rather than an attraction in town.

The government shutdown’s effects on Westerners are ongoing. When asked how they felt about the resulting closure of public lands, 87 percent of Hispanics responded with a negative emotion like annoyed, angry, concerned or upset. Potentially as a result of seeing what happens when public lands are no longer available, opposition to the sale of public lands increased from last year’s poll, with 74 percent of all Westerners now rejecting this idea.

The 2014 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The

poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT,

WY, MT) for a total 2,400-person sample. The survey was conducted from January 7

through 13, 2014, and yields a margin of error of +/-2.9 percent nationwide and +/

-4.9 statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available here, on the Colorado College website

Conservation and land use issues could have the power to sway how western Hispanics vote in 2014 elections, according to the new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll. “The West is a major political battlefield this year, and the poll tells us congressional candidates would be wise to consider their position on conservation and land use issues carefully,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Westerners want their air, water and land protected, and where a candidate stands on these issues could potentially sway votes.” This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters — 14 percent of which were Hispanic — 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 77 percent of Hispanics feel that the government restricting access to national parks and public lands hurt small businesses and communities’ economies in the West. In a follow up message to elected officials and land managers, 84 percent of Hispanics 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: • 78 percent of Hispanics, compared to 72 percent of all Westerners, are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to promote more use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. • 64 percent of Hispanics are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports enhancing protections for some public lands, like national forests. • 60 percent of Hispanics 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: • 70 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports selling public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit. • 62 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who reduces funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service. • 50 percent of Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to stop taxpayer support for solar and wind energy companies. “Hispanics view the protection of our public lands as a moral obligation. It’s natural that this community would be drawn to candidates who support conservation,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation. “With the tremendous growth of the Latino voter bloc, especially in the Western states, we’re going to see engagement in environmental policy and advocacy for our public lands at levels we’ve never seen before.” The results reflect the strong connection Hispanics feel to their public lands, with 95 percent saying they have visited public lands in the last year. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they would recommend an out-of-state visitor visit the outdoors, like a national park, rather than an attraction in town. The government shutdown’s effects on Westerners are ongoing. When asked how they felt about the resulting closure of public lands, 87 percent of Hispanics responded with a negative emotion like annoyed, angry, concerned or upset. Potentially as a result of seeing what happens when public lands are no longer available, opposition to the sale of public lands increased from last year’s poll, with 74 percent of all Westerners now rejecting this idea. The 2014 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) for a total 2,400-person sample. The survey was conducted from January 7 through 13, 2014, and yields a margin of error of +/-2.9 percent nationwide and +/ -4.9 statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available here, on the Colorado College website  

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Robert Fanger
P: 317-410-7668
E: robert@hispanicaccess.org