Poll: Western Voters Prioritize Public Lands
Monday, July 23, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Recent Trump administration actions on public lands could play a deciding role in upcoming elections, especially among independent and swing voters in states such as New Mexico.
A new poll from the Center for Western Priorities says voters in five Western states take a dim view of the federal government rolling back environmental regulations and opening up more public lands to mining and energy development.
Aaron Weiss, the Center’s media director, says the group's research confirms the strength of what some call the Outdoor Voting Bloc.
"The takeaway that we saw here among New Mexico voters is that public lands can be a deciding issue and a differentiating issue for candidates from both parties," Weiss states.
Other states in the poll are Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Nevada.
In the five states combined, the poll showed that voters give the Trump administration only a 27 percent approval rating for its handling of public lands issues.
Weiss says a candidate's views on protecting public lands could be a bigger factor for independent and swing voters than their party affiliation.
He notes the research shows strong support for increasing conservation measures and balanced energy development, especially renewable energy.
But he adds that voters don't want any of that to come at the expense of wildlife.
"Only 25 percent in New Mexico support opening up public lands near monuments and parks for oil and gas drilling, and opposition, up toward 70 percent," he points out.
Only 18 percent of New Mexicans polled said they're in favor of shrinking national monuments. New Mexico's monuments have so far escaped being reduced in size or eliminated.
Lawsuits are still pending over President Donald Trump's decision last December to shrink the size of two national monuments in Utah – Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
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