New poll shows voters strongly support conservation efforts in the West but are increasingly frustrated with lack of action
The Center for Western Priorities’ 2022 Winning the West poll examined Westerners’ positions on outdoor issues leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. The results are unmistakably clear that the outdoors are central to Western voters and their way of life.
Regardless of political party, Western voters in the swing states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico told us that they highly value wildlife and public lands. They want to protect their region’s outdoor spaces and deeply value access for hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping.
An overwhelming majority of voters surveyed (90 percent) said that national public lands, parks, and wildlife issues are important to them, and 81 percent of voters said that these issues will play a role in how they choose to vote. This finding holds true across party lines, with 87 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of Republicans reporting that conservation issues will impact their vote this November.
At the same time, a majority of voters expressed frustration that politicians in D.C. are out-of-touch and not delivering what they promised on the outdoor and public lands issues Western voters care so much about.
Fewer than half of Western voters say they’ve heard much about the President’s conservation agenda, and they are eager to see more action from President Biden on conservation issues. 66 percent of voters believe that the current administration has not done enough to create and protect new public lands and national monuments, and 68 percent support the president designating national monuments through his executive authority.
These results make it clear that despite inflation and other worries, conservation issues are still winning issues in the West. Western leaders should not wait to act on these results, and Western candidates should make them central to their campaign platforms.
What Western Voters Want
New national parks and monuments:
- 77 percent of Western voters are more favorable to an elected official who wants to designate new national parks and monuments.
- 86 percent of Coloradans support the President taking executive action to protect the lands specified in the CORE Act, which would protect over 400,000 acres of land in the state through new wilderness, recreation, and conservation areas.
- 80 percent of voters in New Mexico support proposals to preserve Caja del Rio, which would help preserve culturally significant sites and an important wildlife corridor.
- 77 percent of Nevada voters support a proposal to designate Spirit Mountain (Avi Kwa Ame) as a national monument.
- 76 percent of voters approve of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, including 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents, and 59 percent of Republicans.
Protecting existing public lands from development and exploitation:
- 88 percent of Westerners are more favorable to an elected leader who supports protecting existing national parks and national monuments (90 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Independents, and 86 percent of Republicans)
- In Arizona, 60 percent of voters support permanently banning new uranium and other mining on public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon
Efforts to address climate change, pollution, drought, and wildfire:
- The poll found that 78 percent of Westerners are concerned that pollution is threatening rivers, lakes, and streams.
- 91 percent believe leaders need to do more to plan for sever droughts and wildfire.
- 74 percent of voters are concerned about the effects of climate change, like severe droughts and wildfires, on public lands.
- 75 percent of people are concerned that overdevelopment is threatening our nation’s rural areas, forests, and natural heritage.
More investment in renewable energy:
- 78 percent of voters believe that leaders need to do more to support the clean energy industries in their state, including 82 percent of Coloradans, 81 percent of Arizonans, 73 percent of New Mexicans, and 79 percent of Nevadans.
- 81 percent of voters believe that states in the West need better options for clean energy to suit the West’s unique climate and landscapes
- 74 percent of Westerners are also more favorable toward candidates who invest in the renewable energy sector
- When it comes to rising gas prices, 78 percent of Westerners blame oil companies for the increased expense, 76 percent blame Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, and 75 percent blame politicians blocking policies to support clean energy.
As the 2022 midterm elections draw closer, voters will clearly be watching to see which candidates plan to take action on environmental issues and protecting public lands.
The complete Winning the West poll results are available at westernpriorities.org/winning-the-west.
The Winning the West poll was conducted in May 2022 by Benenson Strategy Group. It included 2,011 online interviews with 2022 likely voters in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The sample was weighted to ensure it was proportionally representative of voters in each state. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±2.19 percent.