As candidates look to win swing states in the West, a new poll shows that voters in Nevada support pro-public lands policies while opposing anti-public lands activist and rancher Cliven Bundy. Today the Center for Western Priorities released its 2016 Winning the West poll, conducted for the first time in Nevada, finding that voters strongly support renewable energy and the state’s outdoor recreation economy.
The new research shows that Nevadans are widely supportive of the state’s public lands, that they want to see their public lands heritage protected, and that they are opposed to selling of public lands. A few key findings include:
- Nevadans are frequent visitors to the state’s open spaces, with nearly 9 in 10 visiting public lands in the state at least once last year.
- While some have proposed selling off national public lands, Nevadans are not supportive of this idea–in fact, 50 percent of Nevadans are less likely to support a candidate who proposes selling off public lands to reduce the budget deficit.
- By a nearly two-to-one margin, voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea that there are too many public lands in Nevada.
- 71 percent of Nevadans support protecting the red sandstone canyons and cultural heritage sites in the Gold Butte region as a national monument.
The coveted ”split ticket voters,” those that vote for candidates of both parties, in particular supported balanced policies to increase recreation access and protections for public lands. For example, 54 percent of split ticket voters preferred a Democratic candidate seeking to promote recreation and renewable energy on public lands, compared to 27 percent that preferred a Republican candidate who supports selling some public lands and opposes new national monuments.
The poll also highlighted public lands issues that do not move Nevada voters. Only 19 percent of Nevada voters were more likely to support a candidate who supported Cliven Bundy and his cause. Further, after hearing more about Cliven Bundy’s actions, all groups of Nevada voters, including Republicans and independents, were more likely to disagree with his agenda. In contrast to Cliven Bundy and his family’s agenda, the poll found a strong majority of voters (72 percent) support collaborating on public lands issues over conflict with the federal government.
On energy issues, Nevadans strongly supported increased development of renewable energy and requiring mining companies to pay their fair share for extracting minerals on public lands. Similarly, solar companies are generally well-liked (66% favorable), while the state’s public utilities commission and oil and coal companies aren’t viewed as favorably (35% favorable and 38% favorable, respectively).
As candidates travel Nevada and the West, it is clear that there is broad support for protecting our public lands, increasing access for outdoor recreation, and building upon thriving outdoor tourism and recreation industries. To view more poll results, including those in other Mountain West states, visit the Winning the West website.