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Vast Majority of Latino Voters are Pro-Conservationist, Poll Finds

Vast Majority of Latino Voters are Pro-Conservationist, Poll Finds


Written by Ngoc Nguyen

A new poll shows that Latino voters in six inland western states have strong pro-conservationist views, in some cases stronger than their white counterparts.

The 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll found that Latino voters in the region nearly unanimously – 94 percent — view national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas as an essential part of their state’s economy.

The bi-partisan survey, released today, polled 2400 voters in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and was conducted by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll was funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

Pollster Dave Metz said the survey dispels the notion that ethnic communities, particularly hard hit in the economic downturn, are “more willing than others to let the environment take a back seat to economy.”

Of the 336 Latino voters polled, 87 percent said they believe it is possible to protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs at the same time, compared to 78 percent of the general public.

The poll also shows Latino voters in the region want more “public investment” in conservation efforts, Metz said.

“A solid majority of Latinos, even facing state budget problems, [want the state to] invest in land, water, and state parks,” he said. “Latinos believe those resources make important contributions to the state economy.”

Overall, Latino voters were most concerned about cuts to funding for state parks and environmental protections.

Maite Arce, executive director of the Hispanic Access Foundation based in Washington, D.C., said she wasn’t surprised by Latino voters’ strong pro-conservationist beliefs, and says it is in line with their cultural values.

“For Latinos, family is really critical, health is really critical,” she said. “There’s just a strong connection in our heritage to the outdoors, wildlife, land, air. I think the experience of grandfathers and grandmothers [back] in home countries…are definitely still ingrained in who we are. [It’s] the connection to the land.”

Latino voters also expressed strong concern for air and water pollution, including the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment, compared to the general public. The sentiments help to explain high levels of support among Latinos for federal clean air and water protections, and the development of renewable energy.

All respondents showed strong support for clean air protections under the U.S. EPA, but support among Latino voters was even stronger (81 percent versus 70 percent for the general public).

Eighty percent of Latino voters want America to wean itself off coal, oil and gas, and expand the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind, compared to 65 percent of the general public.

The poll also found that Latino voters were more likely than other respondents to view renewable energy as a jobs creation engine. Seventy-eight percent of Latino voters agreed that renewable energy like solar and wind will create new jobs in their state, compared to 68 percent for the general public.

“Four out of five [Latino voters] see the job creating potential of renewable energy,” said pollster Dave Metz, during a telephone media briefing on Monday.

Arce says she was surprised by the strong support Latino voters showed to designate public lands to national monuments. Nearly three-fourths of Latino voters in the region held this belief.

“We definitely have heard Hispanics want to know more about parks and monuments,” said Arce. “[There’s] not enough awareness about the local monuments.”

Latino voters in the poll also tended to be younger than other respondents, suggesting a growing political influence in the region, Metz said.

“The Latino population as a whole is overwhelmingly younger,” Metz said. “[And for] registered voters, it is a younger population. It’s indicative of where the region is headed. This is a rising segment of the electorate.”

This post was originally published by New America Media.


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Photo from MoabAdventure via flickr

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3:21PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Cool. Thanks.

2:04PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Thanks for the article.

7:09PM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Catt, I think you misread the headline. It says they are conserVATIONists, not conservatives. Conservationists want to preserve the wild lands.
I misread the headline from another article called 'The best Puppy Bowl moments', as 'The best Puppy Bowel movements'.

9:20AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

I do not see how this makes them 'conservatives' ....... the GOP wants to defund the EPA and let the corporations do anything they want to our land, water, and air in the name of profit. The article states the 'Latinos' want the states to spend money protecting the parks and land not that they feel it is okay to destroy the earth to make more money. This article is poorly written because it makes no sense

9:12AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

@ Debbie B..You may not have heard that the Latino population is greatly increasing by Latinos leaving the land of their ancestors to come to the land their ancestors stole from the native peoples, that was later stolen from them. Tough.

10:43PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

Thank you.

7:15PM PST on Feb 1, 2012


4:23PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

This land is their land. Most white Americans fail to remember that most of the American southwest was once part of Mexico, until we stole it from them in one of our illegal wars.

Most Latino family's can trace their roots in this area back to a time when there were no whites living there.

It comes as no surprise to me that they want to preserve the land of their ancestors.

2:25PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I am surprised about these claims. Certainly the Latino street gangs, of which there are many, don’t have any interest in the environment. The Latinos in Mexico certainly have no interest in population control. A memorable 60 minutes program interviewed a Mexican supervising his multiple children scrounging through a huge garbage dump and asked him if it was a good idea to have that many children under those conditions. He smiled brightly and said ”That’s the way we Mexicans are, Senor”. Again, I, who lived a year in Mexico City, am surprised by the claims.

2:24PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

@ Steve R…”the majority of us like to think of ourselves as "Americans", not people divided into "ethnic groups"!… So then the push for diversity is just more BS ? If they aren’t divided into ethnic groups, they aren’t diverse.

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