Latino Voters Crucial To Environmental Movement, Report Finds

AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 28:  A bilingual sign stands outside a polling center at public library ahead of local elections on April
AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 28: A bilingual sign stands outside a polling center at public library ahead of local elections on April 28, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Early voting was due to begin Monday ahead of May 11 statewide county elections. The Democratic and Republican parties are vying for the Latino vote nationwide following President Obama's landslide victory among Hispanic voters in the 2012 election. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Latino voters care deeply about green issues, and could be a crucial voting bloc in support of environmentally-friendly legislation, according to a new report.

The report, published jointly by Latino Decisions, a political opinion research group, and the nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation, found that more than two-thirds of Latinos believed air and water pollution were "very" or "extremely important" issues. The Latino voting bloc was instrumental in passing conservation tax propositions in Colorado, New Mexico and California -- where Latinos make up 11, 35 and 25 percent of voters, respectively. Latino voters were also essential in passing Florida’s Amendment 1, which dedicated funds to conserving natural resources and recreation lands in the state. Latinos make up 19 percent of voters in that state.

Released on Wednesday, the report comes after a poll from The New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future found that more than half of Hispanic voters considered global warming “extremely or very important to them personally.” Nearly two-thirds of them responded that the federal government should act on climate.

But although 70 percent of Hispanics polled in 2014 said they believed it was very or extremely important for the federal government to “take measures to reduce carbon pollution that is causing global warming or climate change,” another Latino Decisions poll conducted last year found that just 1 percent put environmental concern among the most important issues facing their community.

The Hispanic voting population -- widely perceived to be a crucial bloc in the 2016 elections -- remains focused on immigration reform. The next most important issue on their mind is the economy. In 2014, Hispanics/Latinos represented 8 percent of voters nationwide, slightly down from 10 percent in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.

Latino Decisions analyzed several different 2014 polls of Latino voters for Wednesday's study, including a Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll, a HECHO/Latino Decisions survey of the Colorado and New Mexico Hispanic electorate, two NCLRAF/Latino Decisions surveys of Colorado and Florida and a national survey from the Natural Resources Defense Council.



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