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Environment is crucial issue for voters, poll shows
Environmental issues such as clean air and water are major concerns of voters as this year's elections approach, according to a poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters.
Clean air and water rank with education, crime, drugs, health care, Social Security and Medicare and above taxes as primary concerns for voters, the poll indicates. Sixty-four percent of voters surveyed view environmental issues as very or somewhat important, according to the poll.
"American voters care deeply about the quality of the air they breathe and the water they drink, and they overwhelmingly support candidates who share those concerns," said Deb Callahan, president of the LCV Education Fund. "Voters not only favor candidates who support stronger environmental protections and enforcement, but they are also much more likely to oppose candidates who would turn back protections for our air, water and open space."
Voters of all political parties and ideologies overwhelmingly support the notion that a clean environment and a strong economy can flourish together. Nearly 74 percent of moderate and liberal voters and more than 68 percent of conservative voters believe that "we can have a clean environment and a strong economy at the same time without having to choose one over the other."
Seventy-eight percent of those polled say they favor candidates who vote for the environment over those who vote for fewer government regulations.
Voters also believe government regulations and enforcement of environmental laws are important. The poll indicates that 77 percent of voters want tougher environmental laws and stricter enforcement.
An overwhelming 92 percent of respondents agree that polluters or other environmental law-breakers should pay fines. And 89 percent of respondents believe businesses that pollute should pay higher fees for business and dumping permits to help pay for environmental law enforcement.
More than 60 percent of those polled perceive pro-environment candidates as responsible and trustworthy. The same positive traits are not attributed to candidates who support reducing environmental regulations on business.
"Political candidates, regardless of political party, can benefit by including environmental issues in their campaigns," said Al Quinlan, president of Greenberg Quinlan Research Inc. "Not only do environmental issues, especially clean air and water, appeal directly to the quality of life and health concerns of voters, but candidates who embrace these issues are viewed in a significantly more positive light by voters."
Nearly 80 percent of key swing voters such as Independents, young women and moderate to conservative Democrats view pro-environment candidates as sharing their values.
"The trend in politics this year is that candidates are talking less about issues and more about character and values," said Callahan. "The environment can be a key issue in that dialogue because environmental support is perceived by voters to positively reflect on the character of candidates."
The LCV Education Fund commissioned the national poll, which was conducted Feb. 6-13 by Greenberg Quinlan Research Inc. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,750 likely voters. The results are weighted to represent 1,000 likely voters across the country. The margin of error on the poll is 3 percentage points.
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