|Yellow Stone National Park, Wyoming|
Photo Courtesy Latham Jenkins
A bipartisan team, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Mertz & Associates together with Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 2,400 registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana in January. The poll was designed to gauge Western voters' preferences regarding congressional candidates' environmental stances.
Fewer than 20 percent of respondents said that a congressional candidate's position on air, land, and water conservation was inconsequential to their voting decisions. Those polled also demonstrated that they are more likely to vote for candidates willing to protect nature and public lands. However, the majority of people surveyed are in favor of energy development.
The poll found strong agreement that the closure of national parks last fall economically hurt Western communities. This correlated to the poll's finding that voters are more likely to support candidates who increase public land protections.
"Westerners believe there's a time and place for everything and that there are some places that are so important they ought to be protected permanently," poll director Lori Weigel said.