Coloradans want to fight climate change but more will vote base on inflation, poll finds

Coloradans want to fight climate change but more will vote base on inflation, poll finds

A new poll commissioned by a conservationist group found Colorado voters think Washington, D.C. politicians don’t pay enough attention to western wildfires, drought and climate change — but that inflation will be top of mind for many when they cast their ballots this fall.

It found likely Colorado voters were also dead even on if they approved of how President Joe Biden has handled conservation efforts, at 50-50. He was upside down on approval of how he’s handled the environment and climate change, at 43% strongly or somewhat approving to 57% strongly or somewhat disapproving. However, it did not specify if people disapproved of those efforts because they wished he would do more or less on the matters.

When it comes to the general election this November, however, 28% of Coloradans listed inflation as their No. 1 issue. The next top issue was health care costs and access, at 13%. Abortion access was No. 3, at 11%, though it did not specify if it was people wanting to protect or limit access to the procedure.

The survey responses were also being collected in May, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that overturned the Roe vs. Wade ruling that established a Constitutional right to an abortion.

Wildfires, droughts and other effects of climate change were the only other issues to be the top priority for a double-digit percent of likely Colorado voters, at 10%.

The poll surveyed 2,011 likely voters in four western states deemed swing states this fall — Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona — and has a margin of error among all respondents of plus or minus 2.19 percentage points. When narrowed to just Colorado respondents, the margin of error rises to 4.4 percentage points. The pollsters used an online panel survey system to tailor the response pool to the states’ political and demographic makeup.

The survey was conducted by Democratic pollsters Benenson Strategy Group. The firm is graded as a B/C, or the middle of the pack, by data journalism outlet FiveThirtyEight. It was conducted on behalf of the Denver-based Center for Western Priorities, which bills itself as a nonpartisan conservation and advocacy organization.

The organization used the results to argue leaders need to do more for conservation and climate change.

“This year’s poll reaffirms elected officials must highlight their conservation policies in order to motivate and win Westerners’ votes,” Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement. “What’s new is that we are starting to see frustrations from voters who feel that politicians in D.C. are out-of-touch and not delivering on what they promised Western voters on the outdoor and public lands issues they care so much about.”

A plurality of Coloradans, 29%, named water and drought as top issues in the West that Washington, D.C., politicians either don’t understand or don’t pay enough attention to. That, and the No. 2 response of wildfires, aligned with the broader poll response.

However, 13% of all respondents said immigration was the No. 3 western issue missed by Washington; 10% of Coloradans listed climate change as a top issue, making it No. 3 for the state. Only 3% of Coloradans named immigration as a top issue misunderstood or ignored by Washington politicians.

A large portion of Colorado respondents — 74% — either somewhat or strongly agreed that leaders aren’t doing enough to reverse the effects of climate change. That’s the highest percentage of all the individual surveyed states.

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