Poll shows that Republican voters are environmentalists, too

A poll of 1,000 likely Republican voters has shown that environmental protection is a more pressing concern than two 'traditional' Republican vote-winning policies - tax cuts and measures to restrict access to abortion.

“It’s primary season, so candidates are trying to figure out who they are and what type of policies they should adopt,” Peter Kelley of the National Environmental Trust (NET) told edie. NET commissioned the poll and has distributed its results to all the presidential campaigns.

“We wanted to make it clear to Republican candidates that if they are considering environmental policies that they are likely to receive support from conservative voters,” said Kelley. “Republican voters don’t want a free-for-all where the environment suffers.”

The poll was conducted in mid-August by independent pollster John Zogby. One thousand conservative voters in five early or caucus states – California, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York and South Carolina – were polled.

Of those surveyed, 93% said protecting the environment was important in deciding their vote for a candidate – the same percentage of Republican primary voters who identified “encouraging family values”.

Zogby found that the most important environmental issues to likely Republican primary and caucus voters are:

  • improving drinking water – 97%
  • cleaning up toxic waste – 96%
  • improving air quality – 93%
  • requiring auto companies to meet fuel efficiency standards – 88%

The most popular pro-environmental policies were shown to be:

  • requiring manufacturers to include information about cancer-causing ingredients on product labels
  • support for modernising power plants
  • support for automobile emission reductions
  • strengthening the federal role in regulating pesticides currently in use

Voters were also polled for their views on anti-environmental positions. Kelley believes that the results show that Republican candidates “shouldn’t expect that anti-environmental policies would be welcomed”. The least popular anti-environmental positions are:

  • accepting political contributions from companies that pollute and that seek to weaken clean air and water legislation
  • saying global warming has not been proven and is nothing to worry about
  • campaigning for relaxation of the Clean Water Act

When asked to identify issues that the US Federal Government should prioritise, three areas were highlighted. Of the 1,000 voters polled, 46% would like to see improved toxic waste clean-up, 44% would support improved drinking water quality and 44% would like to see measures to protect against sprawl. Almost 48% said they would favour a candidate who takes global warming and its resulting disrupted weather patterns seriously.

NET is a non-profit organisation that creates public education campaigns on environmental issues facing Congress. Currently, it is working on four campaigns: Global Warming, Forest Wilderness, Clean Air and Children’s Health & the Environment.

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