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Conservation Issues Could Impact 2014 Election Results, CC Poll Shows

The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll, now in its fourth year, recently explored voter attitudes in six Western states. The poll, which examined opinions about a variety of issues, including land use, water supplies, air quality, and public lands’ impact on the economy, has been picked up widely by media.

A total of 2,400 registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana were polled between Jan. 7-13. The results, which were released last week, show that the West is a major political battlefield this year. “The poll tells us congressional candidates would be wise to consider their position on conservation and land use issues carefully,” said CC economist and State of the Rockies Project Faculty Director Walt Hecox. “Westerners want their air, water, and land protected, and where a candidate stands on these issues could potentially sway votes.”

Conservation, environment, energy, the role of government, trade-offs with economies, and citizen priorities were investigated, with researchers finding that voters are far more likely to show support for candidates who seek to protect natural areas and public lands while proceeding with energy development.

The results also showed overwhelming agreement that when the government closes national parks and other public lands, small businesses and communities' economies in the West suffer.

"The Rocky Mountain region is politically diverse, with communities running the spectrum from red (predominantly) to purple to blue,” said Tom Cronin, CC’s McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership, and a frequent political commentator. “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."

The bipartisan poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Mertz & Associates and Public Opinion Strategies and has a margin of error of 2.9 percent. Click here for complete results.