Western Voters, Nevadans In Particular, See Climate and Pollution As Top Issues In Election

A new poll released Thursday by Colorado College just before the Nevada Democratic caucuses shows that for residents of both parties in Western states care deeply about a wide range of conservation issues from battling climate change and pollution, to protecting federal lands and parks and endangered species, and ensuring clean and plentiful water.  In the West, voters particularly women and Latinos and other minorities are more likely to say there will be effects of climate change in their state than their counterparts, and according to the Yale Climate Communications Program, Latinos are more convinced that global warming is happening and are more supportive of climate change policies than the overall U.S. population.

Why This Matters:  If history is a guide, climate change will drive Latinos to vote in the caucuses and in the general election in Nevada this year. Latinos are generally younger and more engaged in climate change than any other racial or ethnic group, according to several recent studies.  Nevadans came out in droves to support pro-environment and pro-climate action candidates in 2018 and made a difference in several key races including Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen, who unseated her incumbent Dean Heller in and Democrat Steve Sisolak, who won the race for governor with barely 50 percent of the overall vote.  Voters in the West, and in Nevada in particular, are increasingly want to see the federal government take action on fighting both climate change and pollution. Even mining on federal lands is overwhelmingly unpopular in most Western states according to the poll, while conserving 30% of the U.S. land and ocean by 2030 is very popular.  Given President Trump’s policies, these issues could be the key to defeating him across the West.

Top Line Poll Results

The poll was taken by a non-partisan research team who conducted 3,200 telephone (cell and landline) interviews with 400 registered voters in eight states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming on January 11-19, 2020, in Spanish and English, with an overall sampling error of +2.65% for the total sample and + 4.9% for each state.  Here are the highlights.

  • Most Westerners consider themselves conservationists and they take a public official’s stance on the environment very seriously; nearly half say it is a primary factor when deciding to support a candidate.
  • By 72% and 73% respectively, women and voters of color are more apt to say there will be effects of climate change in their state than their counterparts.
  • Across the political spectrum, there is an increased sense that climate change is a serious problem, with independents’ sense of urgency increasing the most from 45% in 2011 to 65% in 2020.
  • Across the spectrum, Western voters see Climate Change, Water Supply, and Pollution as the top three environmental issues, but in a different order depending on political party.
  • Climate change is the most important environmental issue in Nevada, as well as in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Uncontrollable wildfires, one impact of climate change, are considered a serious problem by four-in-five Westerners.
  • Seven-in-ten Western voters believe removing the Clean Water Act protections was a bad decision.
  • 84% of Western voters consider pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams is a top concern.
  • 67% of voters believe reducing the protections for threatened species under the Endangered Species Act was a “bad change” even in rural communities (57%).
  • Two-thirds want their Congressman to protect national public lands over allowing more drilling and mining.
  • 73% support (43% strongly) setting a national goal to protect 30% of America’s land and ocean areas by 2030.

To Go Deeper: Read the full poll results — there is so much more there than we can detail.  It is highly worth the time.

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