|Colorado Voter Issue
The survey tested voter attitudes concerning a number of
major political issue concerns (Q. 3-11). The three issues
which received the highest response from voters were education
(mean 8.73 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest
level of concern), clean air and water (mean 8.17) and crime
and drugs (mean 8.05).
Several different descriptions of environmental issues
were tested and of those, "clean air and water"
ranked easily highest, with a mean of 8.17. "Sprawl
and over-development" placed second with a 7.67 mean,
"the environment" overall received a mean of 7.65,
and "global warming" was the lowest rated issue
tested, receiving a mean of only 6.16.
On the issue of clean air and water, the lower the income
of a voter, the more likely they were to rank the issue
8 or higher. 54% of those earning under $35,000 did so,
with the responses falling incrementally through each successively
higher income bracket to 44% for those earning $75,000 or
more. Women were more likely to view the issue with high
concern (55% ranked it 8 or higher) than men (44%). The
issue was also non-partisan, as over one-third of self-identified
Republicans, Democrats, and Independents gave it a 9 or
When asked to consider conservation or environmental concerns
specifically (Q. 12), voters were most likely to be concerned
about sprawl and uncontrolled growth (28%) and water quality
(19%). Of those naming water quality as their highest concern,
52% were women and 62% lived in households without children.
Similarly, of those naming sprawl as their highest concern,
58% were women, and 65% lived in households without children.
Republicans, Democrats, and Unaffiliateds ranked sprawl
and uncontrolled growth as the environmental issue they
were most concerned about.
The Influence of Money in Politics
Voters were asked whether they thought that campaign contributions
influenced politicians' actions on environmental issues
(Q. 13). 81% overall felt that money does direct action
on environmental issues (62% strongly so). Baby-boomers
were the most likely to hold this view, with 91% of those
45-54 believing that money controls political action on
environmental matters. Coloradoans who feel that things
are off on the wrong track in their communities are more
likely to think that campaign contributions influence how
elected officials vote on environmental issues than voters
who say that things are headed in the right direction (72%-56%
say it influences officials "a lot").
Environmental Concerns in Voting Behavior
Environmental and conservation concerns are a major motivating
factor for Colorado voters. In a split sample, 87% said
that issues involving "clean air, clean water and open
space" were at least somewhat important in their voting
decisions, while 83% said that "conservation or environmental
issues" were at least somewhat important in their voting
decisions. (Q. 15). Those without children living in their
households were more likely to place high value on these
concerns: 87% placed importance on "conservation or
environmental issues" and 91% on "issues involving
clean water, clean air and open space." Those without
children fell 14 points behind on the broad language question
(73% important) and 9 points lower on the specific language
example (82% important). Income was also an important factor.
Those who earned under $35,000 were more concerned with
the environment than any other economic group. 56% of this
group, compared to 41% of the overall sample says, "issues
involving clean water, clean air and open space are "very
important in making a voting decision."
Voters are largely satisfied with the current number of
environmental laws on the books, with 55% feeling that current
laws are strong enough and need to be strictly enforced
(Q. 16). Among those who believe that current laws are sufficient
and need only be enforced more strongly, income was a factor.
62% of those earning under $35,000 agreed with the statement,
with support for the statement falling through each successively
higher income group to 49% for those earning $75,000 or
more. The highest income group was the only one in which
more than 10% believe that current laws are too strict and
need to be relaxed (11%).
Voters were given the following profiles of candidates
and asked which they would support (Q. 19):
"Candidate A believes we must protect the environment,
and supports strong laws and enforcement of those laws.
Candidate B believes there are too many government regulations,
and supports efforts to relieve the burden of regulation
60% of Colorado voters support Candidate A while 31% support
Candidate B. Voters who earn $50,000 to $75,000 are the
most likely to strongly support Candidate A (53% compared
to 44% of the overall sample). Coloradoans living in suburban
Denver give the greatest margin to candidate A (68%-8%).
As noted above, when the candidate profiles are altered
to include language noting that Candidate A gets money from
environmental groups and Candidate B gets money from developers
and polluters, the overall sample shifts support in favor
of Candidate A, from 60% support to 72%. The youngest subgroup
of voters (18-34) support Candidate A over Candidate B more
than any other age group (81%-10%).
Ridder/Braden, Inc. surveyed 600 likely voters from June
7-13, 2000. The margin or error is +/- 4.38% at the 95%